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THE GERMANS 




The Kaiser 



THE GERMANS 



By 

LIE 



WITH MA- 



THE OMPANY 

PUBLISHERS 



THE GERMANS 



By 
I. A. R. WYLIE 

Author of Dividing Waters. The Native Born. Etc 



WITH MANY ILLUSTRATIONS 



INDIANAPOLIS 

THE BOBBS-MERRILL COMPANY 

PUBLISHERS 



Copyright 1911 
The Bobbs-Merrill Company 



PRESS OF 
BRAUNWORTH & CO. 
KB1NOERS AND PRINTERS 
BROOKLYN. N. V. 



CONTENTS 



CHAP. 



PAGE 



I. The Reason of It— Introductory 



II. South German Towns in General and 

Karlsruhe in Particular . . . io 

III. The Two Types 29 

IV. The Magic Circles 45 

V. Karlsruhe Sociabilities 65 

VI. Christmas 8 5 

VII. The Students and the Emperor's Birthday 107 

VIII. The Duel 140 

IX. The Coat of Many Colors . „ . . 158 

X. The German Woman 185 

XI. Sporting Matters ...... 205 

XII. Manners Maketh Man ..... 225 

XIII. Marriage— Before and After . . .239 

XIV. Another Fable — Cheap Germany . . 263 
XV. The Theater and Musical Life . . .275 

XVI. Education 293 

XVII. The Poor in Town and Country . . „ 317 

XVIII. National Spirit .341 

XIX. Which Contains an Appeal and an Apology 355 



THE GERMANS 



THE GERMANS 

CHAPTER I 

THE REASON OF IT — INTRODUCTORY 

In these nervous days, when peaceful British 
householders retire to bed with the black possi- 
bility before them of waking up to find themselves 
overwhelmed by German airships, German dread- 
noughts, German soldiers, and — worst of all — 
German policemen, in other words, to find that 
their dear Motherland has been transformed into a 
German colony, there is "of making many books 
no end" on the subject of our future conquerors 
and oppressors. The authors are sometimes in- 
tensely serious — as becomes the situation. They 
belabor us with statistics and calculations — differ- 
ing according to their own political opinions — 
which show with horrible clearness how our cous- 
ins are growing mentally and physically. They 
lead us into a maze of German law and German 
politics ; they give us vague scraps on German art 
I 



2 THE GERMANS 

and literature, and leave us with the bewildered 
impression that we have been shown the internal 
workings of a huge, ugly piece of machinery which 
excites alarm, a certain amount of admiration — 
certainly no love. 

And then comes the second class of what might 
be called "German Literature." It is the book 
that is written by the peaceful British house- 
holder himself in leisure hours after his fortnight's 
trip abroad. He has been to Berlin, and stayed 
perhaps at a not very expensive boarding-house, 
and has therefore every right to speak on German 
society, German manners, and German customs, 
and to condemn everything offhand. He has 
strayed into some German theater, so he can talk 
fluently on the German drama of to-day; he has 
had a furious discussion with a postal official who 
obstinately refuses to understand his own language, 
so he can with all justice complain of German of- 
ficialdom; in the restaurant he has discovered that 
his reiterated "Kellner!" is treated with less respect 
than the raised finger of a smart young Prussian 
officer, so German militarism forms a big heading, 
with significant side-shots at conscription in gen- 
eral. He ends up with a broad survey of his 
impressions, which are, as a matter of fact, no im- 



INTRODUCTORY 3 

pressions at all, but the crystallization of his own 
prejudices. On the whole, this second book is a 
sort of extension on the text, "God, I thank Thee I 
am not as other men," and it leaves us smugly 
self-satisfied and aggressively contemptuous; it is 
pleasant to find that our preconceived ideas of the 
mannerless heathen which it describes were after 
all fully justified. 

Then comes the third type. It is frankly humor- 
ous, and has cast off all didactic pretensions. We 
laugh from beginning to end at the funny fat Ger- 
man baron, the funny fat German policeman, the 
funny fat German officer. The author has somehow 
or other picked up some stray peculiarities, and 
turns them to admirable comic effect; and though 
we are still contemptuous, our contempt has be- 
come mingled with a humorous pity. 

Of these three kinds we vastly prefer the last 
two. The first is altogether too serious. It excites 
our anxiety, and presents us with facts which we 
would much rather not know, and, naturally 
enough, awakens no sort of kindly feeling in our 
hearts for the people it has set out to describe. We 
are not fond of machines which, to all appearances, 
are created solely for the purpose of reducing us 
and our national pride to pulp. The other two 



4 THE GERMANS 

books do not alarm us; the one is mildly instructive 
— we feel that we can afterward found our in- 
stinctive dislike for the Germans on definite au- 
thority — the other amuses us. We read both with 
chastened appetite. 

And so we go on, hating, despising, tolerating, or 
ignoring the race to which we are so closely con- 
nected, not according to our knowledge, which is 
often nil, but according to our characters and our 
inherited prejudices. The many books have not 
helped us; our short travels have done less than 
nothing to clear our outlook, overhung as it usually 
is with insular self-satisfaction. We have stayed at 
hotels and judged the Germans by so-called 
"types," which, if they were Englishmen in Eng- 
land, we should ignore as exceptions. Of the inner 
life of the real "types" the average Englishman 
knows and sees next to nothing, and he goes home 
to his own country with the sincere conviction that 
there is no man like an Englishman, and no country 
like England. 

"Germany without the Germans would be all 
right" is the text to a caricature in some German 
comic paper of a check-suited, flat-footed, much- 
bewhiskered Englander on the tour of inspection, 
and such is, as a matter-of-fact, the conscious or 



INTRODUCTORY 5 

unconscious opinion of most of us. And yet — al- 
though I would never dare suggest that there is 
any man like an Englishman — I would venture to 
point out the possibility that a man may be unlike 
and still perfectly agreeable, even — be it said in 
whispers — with his certain advantages. Whereby 
I have betrayed my standpoint, and let the incorri- 
gible anti-German beware! It is a standpoint, I 
must hasten to add, taken not out of prejudice nor 
as the result of unusual circumstances. Ordinary 
experience alone has led me to regard the people 
among whom I live with respect and affection, 
but ordinary experience is, paradoxically, the most 
difficult experience to obtain. This applies not 
only to Germany but to every country. Nowadays 
it is within the means of nearly every one, even of 
the poorest clerk, to travel at least once in a lifetime 
and see something of foreign lands, but just such a 
traveler can of necessity only see things from an 
unusual standpoint — that of an outsider and a 
guest. Whether he is rich or poor makes no differ- 
ence. Whether he stays at a cheap boarding-house 
or at a first-class hotel makes no difference either. 
The fact remains — he is a guest. Even if he has 
introductions, and is allowed to penetrate into the 
circle of certain families, he can not rid himself of 



6 THE GERMANS 

that one great disadvantage, and let no English- 
man, be he ever so observant, imagine because he 
has dined twice at Herr B.'s table, that he really 
knows what sort of a man Herr B. is, or what sort 
of life he leads. Herr B., like every other human 
being, does not carry his heart on his sleeve, and he 
does not turn out his household gods for the in- 
spection of a stranger. He may be worse, and he 
may be a great deal better than he seems — of that 
his guest can not judge with any certainty. 

Perhaps this sounds very obvious, but it is sur- 
prising how many people there are who would 
rightly hesitate to give their opinion on an acquaint- 
ance of a fortnight's standing, and who are yet 
ready not only to criticize but to condemn a whole 
nation on evidence stretching over an equally short 
period of time, and based probably on still more 
superficial observation. This mistake, or whatever 
you please to call it, is not by any means confined 
to English people. I suppose it was first brought 
home to me by an absurd book on England, written 
by a German after a six weeks' sojourn in my coun- 
try, during which time he had strayed from one 
horrible experience to another, under the impres- 
sion that they were the natural and inevitable ex- 
periences of every one. Of course one is indignant 



INTRODUCTORY 7 

over the consequent criticisms, because they are 
based on — for us — obviously false data. But we 
must remember that in six weeks an honest, pains- 
taking student of national habits and customs can 
gather together enough perfectly genuine material 
on which — unless he is blessed with an extraordi- 
nary degree of tolerance — he will consider himself 
justified in founding a most condemnatory criti- 
cism. 

I have experienced this, alas! in my own person. 
A year or two ago I was traveling in England 
with a German friend. I had been foolish enough 
to boast to her about the politeness of our police- 
men, the obligingness of the people in general, the 
excellent "moral" of our soldiers and sailors. In 
one month we encountered nothing but offhand, 
sulky policemen, insolent cab-drivers, disobliging 
shop-people, and on one fatal occasion a whole 
trainful of reeling soldiers on their way to India. 
Of course, these were exceptions — I knew it; but 
could I expect my German friend to believe it? 
That gave me a lesson which I shall not forget, and 
it has since been more deeply engraved on my 
memory by the specimens of English people I 
have met abroad. They have all too often brought 
small credit to their nation, and I have often 



8 THE GERMANS 

wished, when listening to the criticism of fellow- 
countrymen over the land in which I live, that they 
could suffer some of the humiliations I have had to 
suffer! I believe then that they would be more 
careful of delivering judgment even on the most — 
apparently — convincing evidence. I believe they 
would then realize that people can only be judged 
from the inside, and that it is only possible to judge 
from the inside after years of intimate acquaintance 
with their ordinary life. That is what I call learn- 
ing by experience. It is not learning by experience 
to travel through a country with a note-book and 
pencil in hand, picking up statistics and character- 
istics and building up generalities on what might 
easily prove to be exceptions. Statistics have no 
meaning whatever until one has learnt to under- 
stand the temper of the people they concern, and, 
as I must repeat, understanding can only come with 
years. 

This leads me to the reason of it — the rea- 
son why I have ventured to add a modest volume 
to the pile that has been written on the same sub- 
ject. It is not in everybody's power — much less to 
everybody's taste — to make their home abroad in 
order to learn to appreciate the foreigner. It has 
been my lot to do so, and I feel that a less preten- 



INTRODUCTORY 9 

tious effort, made neither by a diplomatist nor a 
journalist nor a business man, but by an ordinary 
private person, living the ordinary German life 
in an ordinary German town, might do more than 
a dozen heavy statistic-laden reports to reveal the 
fact that one can be English and yet sincerely, 
warmly attached to one's German cousins, both as 
individuals and as a nation. 

I do not pretend that my experience is every- 
body's experience, or that my German year is the 
year of every distant corner of the Empire. I 
merely claim that it is typical, that the Germans I 
have met are typical, and that my impressions are 
sincere and unbiased. 



CHAPTER II 

SOUTH GERMAN TOWNS IN GENERAL AND 
KARLSRUHE IN PARTICULAR 

If I venture to describe Karlsruhe, I do so with 
two, I hope, sufficiently good excuses — firstly, that 
I can not give an account of my German year with- 
out the correct mise en scene; secondly, that Karls- 
ruhe is in itself a good type of most German towns. 
I dare say a great many Germans will protest 
against this statement. Karlsruhe typical! Karls- 
ruhe representative! I can almost hear the indig- 
nation of the Miinchener, the Frankfurter, the 
Mannheimer, and all the rest of those who look 
upon Karlsruhe and such small "residenz" as the 
dullest spots on earth. And yet there is, I trust, 
method in my madness. To take a great commer- 
cial center as "typically German" seems to me a 
self-admitted error, because the typical German is 
not commercial. He is not fundamentally a money- 
maker, and is only acquiring that talent by force of 
circumstance and through imitation of others. 
10 



SOUTH GERMAN TOWNS n 

Moreover, where there is commerce in Germany 
there are always two Jews to one Christian, and the 
Jew is not a German, much as he would like to be, 
and it is not in his power or in the scope of his char- 
acter to live the typical German life. Therefore we 
can safely put Frankfurt — of which it is said that 
every third person may be a Christian, but more 
probably is not — on one side, together with all simi- 
lar towns, and look elsewhere. As to Miinchen, it is 
the city of the musician and the artist, and conse- 
quently stamped with very marked and individual 
qualities, not in the least typical of the average 
German. And then the Munchener, like the Ber- 
liner, like the Londoner, is above all things a 
Gross-Stadter, a man of the world who has rubbed 
off the original characteristics of his race ; and his 
home and his surroundings, as a natural result, 
have, in retaining a certain local color, lost their 
national distinctiveness. It is in the lesser towns, 
in the miniature capitals, that one finds the Ger- 
man in his native state, working and living undis- 
turbed and uninfluenced by the foreign stream 
which flows past to the great cities. Just such a 
capital is Darmstadt, Stuttgart, Nurnberg — lastly, 
Karlsruhe. 
With its own palace, its parliament, its mint, its 



12 THE GERMANS 

polytechnicum, its State theater, its own special 
laws and ordinances, it is a German town pur sang, 
and the Germans who inhabit it, from the aristo- 
crat of the Court circle down to the little trades- 
man, are genuine types. I feel, therefore, that in 
giving a brief description of Karlsruhe, I am giv- 
ing a fair idea of dozens of middle-sized South 
German towns. I emphasize South German, be- 
cause South Germans are in many respects a dis- 
tinct race from their northern compatriots, and the 
difference in character naturally leaves its trace 
upon their surroundings. I shall come back to this 
point later when I speak of the people themselves. 
For the present it is sufficient to remark that there 
is a difference, and that I am concerning myself 
chiefly with the race with which I am personally 
best acquainted. 

It is a little difficult to draw an arbitrary line 
between North and South, and there is a large part 
which belongs distinctly neither to the one nor the 
other, and must therefore be roughly described as 
Central Germany. Bavaria, Wurtemberg, and 
Baden form the decidedly southern element. Of 
the three states, Bavaria is the most important — if 
only because of its famous capital — but Baden 
reckons itself, and, to do it justice, is reckoned, 




Freiburg, one of Baden's most beautiful old towns 



SOUTH GERMAN TOWNS 13 

"the model state," and in its comparatively small 
dimensions embraces the most beautiful and rich- 
est tracts of Germany. Adorned by the glories of 
the Black Forest, watered by mighty rivers, blessed 
with a fertile soil, an intelligent people, a liberal- 
minded Grand Duke, a liberal-minded govern- 
ment, it is indeed an enviable little country, and 
deserves the many flattering epitaphs which it be- 
stows upon itself and also receives. Its capital is 
Karlsruhe — a fact which, as Macaulay would have 
said, every school-boy knows. But I have taken into 
consideration that not everybody is a school-boy, 
and that it is just conceivable that the name "Karls- 
ruhe" may awaken, at least in some minds, little 
but a vague notion that Karlsruhe is, well, some- 
where in Germany. Such is my German home, 
therefore — a town of something over 100,000 in- 
habitants. If you asked any one of them what they 
thought of the place, they would tell you without 
hesitation that it is the dullest place on earth, that 
there is nothing doing, that the people are stiff and 
"langweilig," that the theater is not what it was, 
that the shops are twenty years behind-hand in 
everything, that the living generally is bad and ex- 
pensive — en fin, that anybody who lives there 
willingly is an acknowledged fool. After which de- 



i 4 THE GERMANS 

scription you would naturally expect to find the 
trains filled to overflowing with emigrating crowds. 
This, however, is not the case. Without any ap- 
parent reason Karlsruhe grows from day to day, 
and the people who once settle never seem to move 
on. I know indeed of one lady who argued herself 
into such a state of indignation that there was noth- 
ing left for her to do but to go. She tried Munchen, 
and then she came back. This is the only case that 
I know of. My German friend — she may occur 
often in my narrative, so under this title let her be 
henceforth known — declares that when she first 
settled in Karlsruhe, twenty-five years ago, she felt 
that she was taking the first step into her grave. I 
fancy her opinion remains unchanged, but some- 
how, though we are constantly considering other 
places with an eye to "moving on," we never really 
get any farther, and I doubt if we ever shall. 

As a matter of fact, when the inhabitants have 
cleared the atmosphere with a good inevitable 
German grumble, they will generally admit that 
Karlsruhe has its advantages — especially for a cer- 
tain class of people. I doubt if the commercial 
folk enjoy them to the full extent, for, as is natural 
in a Grand-Ducal "residenz," the privileged classes 
— the military and official circles — have by far the 



SOUTH GERMAN TOWNS 15 

best of it, but for these latter, Karlsruhe has indeed 
a good deal to offer. It is just big enough to allow 
for social festivities on a moderately grand scale, 
and it is just small enough to allow each small 
personage to play a big and brilliant part in the 
public eye. And apart from its social advantages, 
there are certain other points in its favor which 
even the most determined grumbler would find it 
hard to deny. In the first place, it is a compara- 
tively new town. Some two hundred years ago a 
certain Grand-Duke Karl, having quarreled with 
his parliament and, generally speaking, come to 
loggerheads with his capital, turned his back on 
the whole troublesome society, and went in search 
of "peace at any price." He believed that he had 
found it in a lovely sylvan spot a few miles away 
from his original "residenz," so, to spite his par- 
liament, and also to repair his shattered nervous 
system, he set to work and built a castle in the 
midst of the forest, thereby hoping to have created 
for himself a refuge from the bickering and nag- 
ging of his unruly subjects. Under the mistaken 
impression that he had succeeded he christened 
the place Karlsruhe (Karl's Rest or Peace). Alas! 
this action proved all too premature, for within a 
short time his renegade people, weary of their 



16 THE GERMANS 

loneliness, deserted the old capital, and a few years 
later their disconsolate ruler awoke to the fact that 
his peaceful refuge had become a veritable town, 
and the name "Karlsruhe" a bitter irony. The poor 
Duke's feelings must have been very keen on the 
subject, for the stone at the entrance to the old 
Schloss bears the following melancholy if resigned 
inscription — 

"In Anno Domini 171 5 I was wandering in a 
wood, the abode of wild beasts. A lover of peace, 
I wished to pass my time in the study of creation, 
despising vanity, and paying a just homage to the 
Creator. But the people came also, and built what 
you here see. Thus there is no peace so long as the 
sun shines, except the peace which is in God, and 
which you can, if you will, enjoy in the middle of 
the world. 1728." 

Surely an irrefutable argument against the dem- 
ocrat who would prove that princes are an unloved 
and unsought-after race! 

At any rate, willingly or unwillingly, the good 
Karl had laid the foundation of a new capital; the 
old one languished as a punishment for its unruli- 
ness, and is to-day an historical but somewhat dirty 
and uninteresting village, which in time will prob- 



SOUTH GERMAN TOWNS 17 

ably be swept clean and incorporated with the capi- 
tal as a suburb. Karlsruhe, on the other hand, grew 
and prospered. In the beginning no more than a 
semicircle of houses surrounding the Schloss-Platz, 
it spread out in regular fan-like order until it 
reached its present dimensions. 

Thanks, therefore, to its recent foundation, it is 
exceptionally clean and well kept. When I say 
"exceptionally" I mean a good deal, for my im- 
pression of German towns as a whole is of cleanli- 
ness and order. The clearer, drier climate may 
account for this to some extent, but I think the real 
explanation lies in the stern rule of the state or — in 
this particular instance — of the Town Council, 
whose lynx-like glance pierces into the uttermost 
corner, and sees to it that that corner is made as 
habitable and as decent as is humanly possible. I 
do not think that the Englishman would fancy that 
lynx-eye, although its interference is on the whole 
quite paternal, and not half so objectionable as is 
made out by people who wish to prove that the 
German is the most police-bullied man on earth. 
As a matter of fact he is not bullied — he is "looked 
after." 

You can best imagine the situation if you 
consider every state in Germany as a "House" in 



18 THE GERMANS 

some big college, with its esprit de corps, its own 
laws and customs, but under one all-uniting l^ead. 
To carry the analogy to the end, the people are of 
course the students, divided into higher and lower 
classes, the masters the ministers, the ushers — if you 
like — the police. And the maxim which rules the 
whole organization is "that everything is for every- 
body's good." Of course, this may seem a some- 
what humiliating system for grown-up people; but 
when it is taken into consideration that there are 
more fools than wise men in the world, and that 
the folly of fools can be infinitely more harmful 
than the wickedness of the wicked, it is surely one 
that has its justification. Be it as it may, this sys- 
tem exists in Germany, and its results are to be 
seen in every department of life, and not least in 
the town organization. I do not say that it is a per- 
fect organization — there are sometimes quite 
startling if human lapses — but it is certain that it 
is an organization which is toiling laboriously, if 
steadily, along the path of self-improvement. It 
is animated, too, by a certain amount of rivalry 
between the towns — especially between the capi- 
tals of the various states. So much exists still of old 
divided Germany, and so much is undoubtedly 
beneficial. The consequences are that each town 




Women street cleaners 



SOUTH GERMAN TOWNS 19 

does its best to attain the highest standard of law, 
order, and progress. 

From these points of view Karlsruhe justly reck- 
ons itself among the first — if not the first. Cer- 
tainly, to walk through its symmetrically well-built 
streets is to gain an impression of light, fresh air, 
and cleanliness. A whole army of neatly uniformed 
individuals are busy morning, noon, and night; 
sweeping, watering, and sand-strewing according 
to orders. Sometimes the orders clash with unfore- 
seen circumstances, as when a watering-cart is seen 
devotedly performing its duty in the teeth of a 
deluging thunderstorm, but on the whole they are 
carried out to the general benefit. And over every- 
thing the policeman watches with a paternal, wake- 
ful eye. If you wish to prove his wakefulness you 
need only leave your own particular piece of pave- 
ment in an untidy state, and in a few minutes a 
polite but firm arm of the law will spring appar- 
ently from nowhere to recall you to a sense of duty. 

I dare say he is very glad of something to do, for 
his life must be one of deadly monotony. Nothing 
ever seems to happen. The very horses, when it oc- 
curs to them to enliven proceedings by running 
away, do so at an easy jog-trot, and stop of them- 
selves; a burglary causes as much sensation as a 



20 THE GERMANS 

full-grown revolution; the so-called slums are 
places which, compared to our notions of the term, 
are paradises of law and order. So the policeman, 
except on rare occasions, has practically nothing to 
do but stand about and wait and hope. On the 
above-mentioned "rare occasions," such as at the 
time of the Hau trial, when emotions ran high, the 
military turns out, and there is a quick end to the 
matter. The military, in fact, is a sort of active 
maid-of-all-work to the law, and is ready to assist 
at a revolution or a fire or an accident with the 
same excellent results. But, as I have said, these 
occasions are rare. Placidity and general propriety 
is in the atmosphere, and that is no doubt why a 
certain class of people find such middle-sized towns 
as Karlsruhe "langweilig." There are amusements 
enough, but of a sober type, which would scarcely 
suit the wilder spirits. A sternly classical Hof- 
Theater, a couple of music-halls — mere cafes, 
where acrobats and a mild vulgarity help to wile 
away the evenings for a lower class paterfamilias, 
and even for the family itself — and a cinemato- 
graph of perfectly respectable and even didactic 
tendencies, are not forms of entertainment likely to 
lead the unsteadiest into mischief. Whether it is 
this lack of temptation or the character of the peo- 



SOUTH GERMAN TOWNS 21 

pie themselves, or a little of both, I do not know, 
but certain it is that the streets of Karlsruhe are 
safe at all hours for people not on the look-out for 
trouble, and in six years I have not seen either by 
day or night an intoxicated man, much less an in- 
toxicated woman. I should think the latter does not 
exist. 

There are no beggars ; begging is absolutely for- 
bidden in all its forms except at the time of the 
Fair, and even then there are only one or two crip- 
ples, who are neither starved-looking nor ill- 
clothed. Street organs, German bands, all forms of 
public nuisance, are unknown. The only noise one 
ever hears issues from the Wirts-Hauser, where a 
Gesangs-Verein (a choral society) is gathered to- 
gether over the beer glass to practice — perhaps a 
Bach oratorio! 

Very little is left to public enterprise, and the 
people seem satisfied that even their pleasures and 
recreation should be in the hands of the municipal- 
ity. They do not consider it any particular priva- 
tion to be without a private garden. A big shady 
garden, as we understand it and love it, is practi- 
cally unknown — not on account of expense, the 
richest man in Karlsruhe has no more than a front 
patch — but simply because no one feels the need of 



22 THE GERMANS 

such a thing. They are not in the least exclusive, 
and the pleasure of sitting shut off from the world 
in your own little bit of private property has no 
charm for them. The average South German pre- 
fers to live and breathe and take his pleasure with 
others, and since the municipality provides him 
with woods and parks and public garden, why 
should he bother to spend money on something 
which he must enjoy in comparative solitude? So 
he keeps his little plot, if he has one, in fair order, 
and plants a few flowers in it to keep up the cheer- 
ful appearance of the street, and spends his free 
time and his spare money drinking his glass of beer 
with his family in the Stadt-garten, and listening 
to the band and greeting his friends. Or, if he 
wishes for peace, there is the forest and the Wild 
Park open to him. In this respect Karlsruhe is per- 
haps unusually fortunate, for so much remains of 
the poor Duke Karl's first surroundings that it is 
possible in five minutes from the center of the town 
to lose oneself in what seems an endless pine-forest, 
and forget that trams and motors and crowds ever 
existed. Bicycling and footpaths are beautifully 
kept, and one can, I believe, walk in the cool pine- 
scented shade as far as Mannheim, some thirty 
miles away. (This is mere hearsay, as personally 




Listening to music in the public gardens 



SOUTH GERMAN TOWNS 23 

I have never made the experiment.) All this is 
public property, and on Sunday it is made good 
use of by the sociable holiday folk who can not af- 
ford the necessary 20 pf. which gains an entrance 
into the Stadt-garten, where a military band, a good 
restaurant, and a beautifully kept flower-garden, 
help to bring refreshment to the hard-working 
German. It is always crowded, and I think the 
point that strikes a foreigner most in a walk 
through the unprotected flower paths, even on a 
grand holiday when children and people of all 
classes abound, is that no one is rough, no one ill- 
mannered, no one attempts to touch the flowers or 
trample on the lawns. There is no paper-throwing 
or any form of disorder. I am sure, after the fullest 
day, the gardens are as tidy, as well kept, as they 
were in the early hours of the morning. Every- 
thing, like the people themselves, is orderly and 
clean and peaceful. 

Then, if you are more select, and wish to leave 
the crowds behind you, there is the Wild Park, the 
property of the Grand-Duke, who allows you an 
entrance for the sum of ten marks yearly as a sort 
of guarantee. No motors are allowed, and a sylvan 
peace inhabits the long straight allees of mingled 
pine and oak. A rider galloping along the horse- 



24 THE GERMANS 

path, a green-coated forester with his dog and gun, 
a woodcutter or two, the Grand-Duke himself — 
such are the only people you are likely to meet on 
your rambles. Numberless squirrels will scuttle 
across your path, herds of deer will watch you curi- 
ously from amidst the trees, and perhaps toward 
evening a family of wild boars — wild only in name, 
be it said for your reassurance — will jog comfort- 
ably from one shady glade to another, but these 
accentuate rather than disturb your loneliness. It 
is as though the place were your own private prop- 
erty, and who can be surprised, therefore, if the 
Karlsruher neglects to acquire gardens of his own 
when he can enjoy so much for a modest ten mark 
piece? And even if that sum can not be spared, 
there is enough to be had for nothing. 

Thus, as I have said, the State or the Municipal- 
ity takes at least one form of public amusement 
into its own hands. It lays out gardens in every va- 
cant spot, it arranges for certain enclosures where 
children can play in safety, for tennis places and 
foot-ball places — the latter to be had for the mere 
asking. No one, in fact, need feel privation where 
fresh air and flowers and trees are concerned. But 
the hand of the powers that be stretches still fur- 
ther into the public life. In a hundred ways the 



SOUTH GERMAN TOWNS 25 

State watches over the welfare of its charges — its 
children in every sense of the word. It even makes 
it its business to see that the guileless public is not 
swindled by quack doctors with quack medicines. 
Almost any day you will find in the official paper 
a large printed notice issued by the officer of health 
warning against some patent medicine (how many 
popular English remedies have I seen thus held up 
to the light of ridicule!), and woe to him who en- 
deavors to foist wares on to the public which are 
not all they are said to be! Again there is scarcely 
an institution of real value to the general popula- 
tion which is not partly or entirely supported either 
by the Grand-Duke or the town. Thus the hospital 
— one of the most modern and beautiful in Europe 
— does not depend for its existence on capricious 
charity. It is the property of the town, and is ar- 
ranged to receive every class, from the poorest to 
the richest. The theater does not depend on the 
favor of the public ; it is the property of the Grand- 
Duke, and can afford therefore to be good. The 
trams and railways are nearly all State, and conse- 
quently the conductors and railway officials, down 
to mere porters, are decently uniformed, and not 
allowed to perform their duties in any rags they 
choose. 



26 THE GERxMANS 

So it is in every branch of life. Everything 
is organized, nothing left to the slipshod, haphaz- 
ard notions of the muddler, or of private companies 
bent on their own gain. No doubt the system has 
its grave disadvantages. Personal charity is dis- 
couraged, and there is a general lack of public 
initiative. I think this latter is the worst evil. It is 
almost as though the system of "being looked after" 
has paralyzed the spirit of undertaking. What the 
State does not do no one does. And the State is 
sometimes appallingly slow and cumbersome in its 
movements, so that reforms are dreamed of in one 
generation and executed in the next. Even the 
shops seem infected with the disease. No shopman 
tries to do better than another, in cheapness or in 
quality or in novelty. He shrugs his shoulders at 
you if he can not supply you with what you want. 
"We don't keep it, and so you won't be able to get 
it in Karlsruhe," they say. And they are perfectly 
right. It is the same everywhere. Where the State's 
hand is at work, you can be sure that it is for the 
general good and that it will be thoroughly done, 
but the State has no idea of hurrying itself. It takes 
its time, and there is no public spirit to arouse it or 
to take its place. And even if the public spirit is 
momentarily aroused, it is quite powerless. The 



SOUTH GERMAN TOWNS 27 

State also shrugs its shoulders. "Take it or leave it 
— just as you like. I don't care!" Whereupon the 
public spirit is immediately subdued and humbled. 

Added to all this, there is a good deal of neces- 
sary but not very pleasant interference in private 
life. To look after its children the State has to 
employ an immense army of officials, who have 
the right to appear in your house any time of the 
day, and ask any idiotic question that may occur to 
them. They are always very polite and apologetic, 
but it is their business to interfere, and so they inter- 
fere to the best of their ability. I say this out of the 
bitterness of my heart, because in reality I know 
that the interference is necessary to the State plans, 
but it is none the less irritating and tiresome. Of 
course the German grumbles, but I do not think he 
minds in the least; he takes a grievance or an inter- 
ference as a necessary evil, and is thankful that he 
has not to bother about putting it right. 

Hence you have in Karlsruhe some rather start- 
ling contradictions — elegant tramways in one street 
and a miserable little railway in another; ad- 
mirable sanitary arrangements in one house, an 
antiquated if healthy enough system in another; 
admirable police, and a fire-brigade of aged ama- 
teur muddlers who arrive on the scene of action an 



28 THE GERMANS 

hour after everything is over. Of course, one day all 
this will be regulated to an equal state of perfection 
— as soon as the Powers begin to move. But the 
Powers are very slow, and the public are incapable 
of spurring them on. One has to wait and be pa- 
tient. 

This is the worst I have to say. Taken as a 
whole, Karlsruhe is a healthy, orderly, successful 
town, having its counterparts in every state in Ger- 
many. The German spirit is slow but thorough, 
and' it is a natural consequence that the towns it 
builds should be slow but thorough also. 

So much, therefore, for my German home. Let 
me now pass on to the people among whom my 
German year is spent. 



CHAPTER III 

THE TWO TYPES 

LOOKING back to the innocent days when I knew 
nothing at all about Germans and disliked them 
heartily, I have a vague recollection of having al- 
ways had two distinct types in my mind's eye. The 
one was a tall, fierce-looking individual with a 
monstrous Kaiser-mustache, an insolent stare, and 
excessively bad manners. He was the sort of person 
who pushed ladies off the pavement, and was gen- 
erally notorious as a swaggering, spur-clicking, 
Schwert-rasselende bully. He was the type which 
I fancy Mark Twain once described when in a seri- 
ous mood, and was altogether detestable. On the 
other hand, there was the second type — a stout per- 
son with glasses, a drooping, untidy moustache, 
long greasy hair and a passion for poetic outpour- 
ings. He was very exclamatory, easily moved to 
tears or laughter, ready to embrace every one at 
first sight, and if not exactly detestable, at any rate 
deserving of a mildly amused pity. 
29 



30 THE GERMANS 

These two types exist to-day — in our literature — 
and are as immortal as the flat-footed, horse- 
toothed, bewhiskered lamp-post in loud check 
trousers and gray top-hat, which is still recognized 
on the continent as the "Typical Englishman." Of 
course that type of Englishman — if he ever existed 
at all — is as dead as the period in which he lived, 
and we nowadays may well wonder over the carica- 
ture which in our eyes has no resemblance to the 
reality. I suppose, therefore, that the German has 
the right to wonder over the two distinct pictures 
we have made of him. Of course, all three are pure 
caricature, which have just sufficient truth in them 
to make them laughable. Here and there it is pos- 
sible to run across a cadaverous-looking English- 
man, with a Baedeker and field-glasses, who bears 
a family likeness, to that old type, and here and 
there one does meet with Germans who remind us 
of the pictures we have seen or the accounts we 
have read. The truth is, that in their desire to 
make fun of each other each nation has chosen out 
the extreme — one might almost say exceptional — 
types of the other and labeled them as "typical." 
I have experienced the same thing in a small way. 
I once walked through the streets of Karlsruhe 
with a newly-arrived English friend, and noticed 



THE TWO TYPES 31 

how she passed over all the good-looking, well-set- 
up people, of which there were plenty, and waited 
until we met an uncouth-looking specimen, when 
she nudged me. 

"Isn't that a typical German?" she exclaimed. 

Of course he was not in the least typical — he was 
the exception. What she really meant was that he 
was the "typical exception" — that he could not have 
been anything else but German. But no doubt she 
still cherishes the idea that most Germans are like 
him, just as most Germans believe that English 
people are lanky and ugly and extremely rude. 

Revenons a nos moutons! Where and how have 
our two distinct pictures of the Teuton been found? 
As a rule we do not bother to reconcile them. We 
know that the one is there for the use of the serious 
author, who wishes to impress his reader with the 
brutality of the German creature, and the other for 
the humorist who wants a ridiculous puppet to 
poke fun at. And yet there is the inevitable grain 
of truth. There are two types of Germans, and if 
the difference between them is exaggerated almost 
beyond recognition, it exists none the less. 

The Prussian is of course the swaggering bully, 
and the South German the fat sentimentalist. The 
great distance of land which separates them, the 



32 THE GERMANS 

difference of climate, are quite sufficient to account 
for the difference between the two great types. The 
bitter northern winds, the long stretches of bleak 
and barren territory, have made the North German 
a man of iron, stern, resolute, reserved. The rich, 
fertile soil, the mountain sides covered with vine, 
the warm sunshine, have made the South German 
easy-going, cheerful, emotional, and expansive. 
Hence the Bavarian gentleman recognizes the 
Prussian even before he speaks. Not as in Eng- 
land, the hall-marking characteristics do not 
confine themselves to the lower classes. The 
gentleman is proud of his "dialect," and in fact of 
everything which publishes his origin and birth- 
place. This is the case not only between north and 
south, but between one state and another, between 
one district and another. I have known a rich edu- 
cated man who fiercely objected to his daughter be- 
ing taught "hoch Deutsch," although her dialect 
was limited to a certain minute tract of land, out of 
which no one understood her. Of course he was 
old-fashioned. The tendency nowadays is to rub 
off all distinctions, and gradually the differences 
which mark the Black Forester from his brother, 
from the Palatinat, and so on, will disappear. But 
the greater distinctions remain, and will always 



THE TWO TYPES 33 

remain, just as certain characteristics will always 
divide the Englishman and the Scotsman into two 
races. 

In Germany the differences were, and to some 
extent are, the outcome of political divisions. Forty 
years ago they were fostered and cherished as a 
proof of patriotism. Then a man was theoretically 
German and practically a Bavarian, or a Prussian, 
or a Hanoverian, with the particular interests of his 
own particular state at heart. Now, though the 
name "German" has been given, both theoretically 
and practically, the prime importance, "local pa- 
triotism" still flourishes side by side with the old 
grievances and dislikes. Let it be made at once 
clear that these are no more than sentimental. They 
are of no real value whatever; and the man who 
cried out for the redivision of Germany or the over- 
throw of Prussia as the ruling power, even if he 
stood in the midst of a crowd of rabid anti-Prus- 
sians, would be treated as a harmless lunatic. Still, 
just as the German of all classes loves to grumble, 
so he loves to emphasize his hatreds and his reasons 
for their existence. Hence the North and South 
Germans are declared enemies. To hear them talk 
one would imagine that an ocean divided them, 
but I fancy it is all talk. At any rate, the differences 



34 THE GERMANS 

are not so great that one can not sit between them at 
a dinner table and be equally charmed with both. 

The Prussian is perhaps more correct, more tena- 
cious with the forms and ceremonies ; at the end of 
the meal he will shake your hand and wish you 
"Gesegnete Mahlzeit" with a deep bow; the opin- 
ions he expresses are strongly conservative and im- 
perial. The South German, on the other hand, 
skips over formalities if he can do so with safety — 
especially if you are a foreigner; his manners are 
easier and lighter; he has liberal, even mildly dem- 
ocratic, tendencies ; you see, in a word, in every de- 
tail, the far-off glimmer of the characteristics 
which go to make up the genuine people of the 
South. But these distinctions are by no means so 
striking as to stamp "truth" upon the caricatures 
which I described at the beginning of the chapter. 
The Prussian's stiffness does not for an instant 
amount to rudeness or even abruptness, nor is he in 
the least the wooden bully of the fables. Nor need 
you be afraid of the South German breaking into 
either sentiment or raptures ; and, indeed, unless you 
are very wide-awake, and on the lookout, you may 
never realize that there is any difference at all. Or 
perhaps your right-hand neighbor may tell you 
that the South German is a "schlappiger Kerl" 



THE TWO TYPES 35 

(careless, slovenly fellow), and your left-hand 
neighbor that the Prussian is "ungemutlich" (un- 
translatable, but infers stiff and unpleasant) , both 
in low-voiced asides, which arouses you to the fact 
that you are sitting between sworn foes. 

As I have said, I do not think the antagonism is 
of much account. Your two neighbors are prob- 
ably bosom friends, except in theory, and I have 
noticed that the North German, though he is loud 
in his contempt for his careless, devil-may-care 
compatriot, is ready to join in his devil-may-care 
ways on the first opportunity offering itself. Certain 
it is that the Prussian officers who are commanded 
to South German regiments never want to go back 
to their native soil. They grumble at what they 
call the "slovenliness" of the South German soldier, 
and the more easy-going discipline of his officers, 
but there is a mildness in the atmosphere, a warmth 
in the Rhine wine, and a cheery, happy-go-lucky 
air about every one, which even the stern discipline- 
loving Prussian can not long resist. He too melts, 
and as time passes he shrinks involuntarily from 
the thought of the icy northern winds and the rigor 
of the northern discipline. And, after all, the re- 
laxation, such as it is, can not be accounted very 
serious, at any rate from a military point of view. 



36 THE GERMANS 

True it may be that the Prussian soldier is a shade 
"strammer," the buttons on his uniform a shade 
brighter, that the Prussian officer is a shade more 
punctilious in the accomplishment of his duty, a 
shade more the man of iron and blood as Bismarck 
loved him. But what are shades of difference, 
especially when they are atoned for, as in this case, 
by so much Mutterwitz, good-humor, and good- 
nature? 

In private life, where the individual is freer to 
follow his inclination and temperament without 
fear of reprimand, the differences become less shad- 
owy, more noticeable. The South German loves 
to take things comfortably; he has a weakness for 
the dolce far niente, which the Italian manages 
with so much grace, but which nature never meant 
for the sturdy Teuton. He was meant for exertion 
in storm and sunshine, constant hard work and bit- 
ter privations, and up to the last years Providence 
has seen to it that he has had enough of all three. 

Thus his tendency to take things easily does not 
suit him as far as outward matters are concerned. 
It shows itself early in life as a "letting himself go," 
a certain slovenliness in appearance and habits 
which calls down the ire of the North German and 
the contempt of the foreigner. To give an in- 



THE TWO TYPES 37 

stance: a middle-class man (I say "middle-class" 
with reservations, because our middle-class does not 
exist in Germany; "educated" would be perhaps 
the better term) does not think of changing into 
evening clothes unless on some really festive oc- 
casion. On the contrary, he slips into the oldest 
and most comfortable garment he possesses, with 
the irrefutable argument, "Why shouldn't I be at 
my ease after a hard day's work, and why should I 
put on my expensive clothes in order to partake of 
beer and cold meat?" Even when he goes to the 
theater he does not trouble to change. In the first 
place, evening clothes are not "evening" clothes for 
him. They are the correct garments to assume at 
all great functions, at whatever time of the day; 
and theater-going is not a great function, it is part 
of his daily life, part of his daily work, one might 
safely say, for what German family of only mod- 
erate means does not have its season ticket? Added 
to this, he does not care for appearances, and he 
knows that no one of his position does. So long as 
he has a title of some sort to hall-mark him as a 
man of a certain position he knows that no one of 
his set — the only set he cares about — will venture 
to criticize him or his clothes. So he goes about in 
his happy-go-lucky way, and the slight, good-look- 



38 THE GERMANS 

ing, smartly-dressed student loses his figure and his 
smartness with painful, astonishing rapidity. 

It is the same with his wife, at whose devoted 
head her northern sister thunders the epithets of 
"disorderly," "extravagant," "careless," "untidy," 
and "inelegant." She, too, takes matters "auf die 
leichte Schulter." As soon as she has her husband 
her most serious business in life is at an end, and 
she proceeds along the dangerous path marked as 
"gemutlich." Not that she is without pride, but it 
turns on position rather than appearances. If she 
is a Geheimratin (the wife of a councillor) , she can 
wear mittens and cotton gloves and dowdy dresses 
without shame — in fact no one bothers what she 
wears. But I must emphasize that all this applies 
only to the South German, and then chiefly to one 
particular class — the educated class. The self- 
same Geheimratin in Prussia has already a certain 
style; her interests are more equally divided be- 
tween her position and the way in which she should 
represent it. Her husband may even attend dinner 
in evening dress, though she is hardly likely to 
go so far as to assume decollete. Even in South 
Germany there is a class which lays considerable 
stress on outward form and appearance — that of 
the aristocracy. Of course, where the aristocracy 



THE TWO TYPES 39 

is poor — as it very often is — elegance is still lack- 
ing, and no one thinks anything about it, but where 
there is money as well as name you at once find all 
the outward refinements of life observed with true 
German thoroughness. Thus it is possible to at- 
tend a South German theater on a festive night, 
and, without having seen the people before, to pick 
out the aristocracy simply by their dress and gen- 
eral appearance. I myself have attended a ball 
where I was able among the hundred guests to 
pick out the one solitary "von." And in this I was 
only led by the cut of his coat, and a little by the 
general appearance of the man. It goes without 
saying that there are glaring exceptions. I know a 
certain baroness who might, without any stretch of 
imagination, be taken for her own cook, but these 
exceptions occur in every country, and can not be 
taken into account. 

On the same scale the North German of privi- 
leged birth is still more "correct," still more care- 
ful to be dressed according to the dictates of custom 
and fashion. In making this statement I must warn 
against all exaggeration. The average South Ger- 
man is not the uncultured, unwashed yokel of the 
novels. At his worst he is a little rough and ready, 
a trifle "derb," a trifle indifferent to outward 



4 o THE GERMANS 

things, but he rarely fails where the politeness and 
refinement of the heart are concerned. And even 
the occasional lack of polish is beginning to be a 
thing of the past, and will disappear altogether 
when the German has acquired riches enough, and 
has had time and experience enough to apply them 
to his physical and material culture. The accounts 
of German family life which I have read in cer- 
tain English novels belong, for the most part, to a 
state of things which may have existed two genera- 
tions ago. Certainly they do not exist nowadays. 
A great deal has already changed, and a great deal 
will be changed within a very short time. For ex- 
cessive culture and refinement in a state and in a 
people is always the signal of decline, and the Ger- 
mans are not declining; they are advancing fast, 
and in the advance are learning to acquire polish 
as well as strength. 

To return from prophecy to my friend the South 
German, I must say in his defense that his easy-go- 
ing habits extend only to physical matters. He is 
a hard and willing brain worker, and the spectacle 
of a "man of leisure" is a rare sight. He has in- 
finitely fewer holidays and longer hours than the 
Englishman, and the worst thing that can befall 
him is to be deprived of his occupation, even 



THE TWO TYPES 41 

though it be by old age. It is this tenacity, this love 
of work for work's sake, rather than commercial 
talent, which makes the German a dreaded rival. 
He may be inclined to be slovenly in his dress, 
and he may not care very much whether his clothes 
are well or badly cut; he may grow stout from want 
of exercise (as I have said, nature intended him for 
hardship, and when things are physically too com- 
fortable for him she revenges herself with an avoir- 
dupois which an Englishman is spared, even 
though he eat and drink double), but in his office 
he is unpitying, with himself and with his subordi- 
nates. And he is highly educated, not only in his 
profession, but in other branches, in art, in music, 
and in science. It would not be too much to say 
that the average German knows more about Eng- 
lish literature than the average Englishman. From 
a mental standpoint he is inexhaustible, and per- 
haps quicker and more intelligent than his northern 
brethren, who are physically stronger and more ac- 
tive. 

The same criticism applies to the womenfolk. 
Physical activity is new to them, and has come too 
late to save the present generation of mothers from 
stoutness, but mentally they atone for all other 
shortcomings. I shall have occasion to speak of the 



42 



THE GERMANS 



much-despised German woman later, so that for 
the present I will confine myself to her Herr 
Gemahl, who is a good-hearted, cheerful, industri- 
ous person, extremely sociable, intensely sensitive. 
This last point is a very important one to notice, if 
you wish to live with him in peace and amity. He 
is easily hurt. He has not been through the rough- 
and-tumble of an English public school, and even 
his year with the troops has not hardened him. The 
abuse of the under-officer does not affect him, as 
coming from an inferior, and the chaff of his equals 
is always kept within bounds. The very existence 
of the dueling system is at the bottom of the court- 
esy with which the men treat each other; and no 
matter how young he is, a German will be careful 
to treat his comrade, his comrade's family, and his 
comrade's opinions with a certain respect, as things 
which are guarded by the sword and the pistol. 
Hence the German's sensitiveness, which is part 
of his character, is fostered by circumstance, and 
often brings him into conflict with his Anglo-Saxon 
cousin. 

The Englishman, it must be admitted, has very 
little consideration for other people's toes when he 
is on the continent. I have known really nice English 
people who thought nothing of making fun of some 



THE TWO TYPES 43 

German custom in the very face of the Germans 
themselves, and I must confess that I feel nervous 
when I have English friends to stay with me, lest 
they should blurt out their opinions and cause an 
irreparable disaster. Moreover, they are not given 
to expressing their gratitude or admiration in very 
ardent terms, and consequently the German is very 
often hurt indeed. To say merely, "Thank you 
very much," to a German after an afternoon tea or 
some such mild form of hospitality, is equivalent to 
saying, "I have not enjoyed myself in the least," 
and you will be put down as cold and ungrateful. 
Not to express voluntary admiration, whether it be 
over a dress or a dinner or a work of art, is to be in- 
tensely disagreeable. It does not matter how bad 
or how ugly things are, you must always hide your 
feelings behind elaborate praise. This is the Ger- 
man's form of politeness — never to say anything 
disagreeable. It is not the shallow, cynical flattery 
of the Frenchman. In nine cases out of ten he 
means what he says; his good-nature is ready to 
make the best of everything, and he can more easily 
persuade himself that things are really beautiful 
than bring himself to utter the brutal truth. He 
shrinks from harsh criticism, and he dislikes to ad- 
minister it. Not that he is incapable of criticism. 



44 THE GERMANS 

He is perfectly willing to abuse himself and all his 
belongings, from his house to his Kaiser, in the bit- 
terest terms, but if you are led away to agree with 
him, you must be prepared for the worst. He will 
never forgive you. 

This painful degree of personal and national 
sensitiveness often brings a new-comer in the 
Fatherland into difficulties, and has cost many an 
Englishman his chance of popularity. But once 
you have learned to treat his feelings with respect, 
you will find the German the most amiable, kindly 
host, and the most thankful and enthusiastic guest. 
A little understanding, a little sympathy in our 
public and in our private life — alas, how little is 
necessary and how much less is given! — and per- 
haps we should not hear so much of "strained rela- 
tions," and "Anglo-German incidents," and "war 
scares." We might build up an entente cordiale with 
our cousin — surely a more natural and fitting one 
— and grow to admire him and like him, as I trust, 
reader, you may feel more inclined to do when you 
have traveled through my German year with me. 






CHAPTER IV. 

THE MAGIC CIRCLES 

We are preparing to give a dance — a very small 
one, be it understood, but not on that account less 
weighty with anxiety. 

English hostess, if ever it seems to you on the eve 
of your great ball that you have been through more 
worry and bother than the whole thing is worth, 
that you have borne enough to exasperate an angel, 
that you are altogether the most harrassed person 
living, console yourself with the thought that your 
German sister has difficulties to contend with of 
which you know nothing. True it is that once she 
has got her guests together they are the easiest peo- 
ple in the world to satisfy, but until that blissful 
moment what troubles and problems have to be 
overcome! 

Can you imagine an ordinary residential town 

of about 100,000 inhabitants, and can you imagine 

those inhabitants divided into compact circles 

which will have nothing to do with one another if 

45 



46 



THE GERMANS 



they can help it, but rotate on their own axis in 
proud independence? Cliques, you will suggest. 
No, "clique" is not the word. A "clique" is a 
French thing, and this is essentially German. It 
may exist in modified degrees in other parts of the 
world, but only in Germany does it reach full per- 
fection and attain the dignity of a national institu- 
tion. Every German and every German woman 
belongs to a "Kreis" — a circle — and there are as 
many circles as there are professions. There is the 
exclusively Court Circle, the Aristocratic Circle, 
the Military Circle, the Official Circle, the Law 
Circle, the Musical Circle, the Art Circle, the 
Learned Circle, the Commercial Circle, the Jew- 
ish Circle, and so on ad infinitum. And they are 
all independent, all more or less exclusive. 

How they came to be formed is difficult to 
say. The Court and Aristocratic Circles are 
natural growths, and I dare say the others fol- 
lowed as a matter of fashion, or perhaps as a sort of 
"slap back." (If you are shut out yourself, it is al- 
ways a satisfaction to shut some one else out.) 
Some, no doubt — like the Jewish Circle — were in- 
evitable. At any rate, there they are, and if, as 
sometimes happens, a husband belongs to one circle 
and the wife to another, severe complications can 



THE MAGIC CIRCLES 47 

set in where entertaining is concerned. It must be 
admitted, however, that this constellation of cir- 
cumstances is rare. A German usually picks out 
his wife from his own circle, or if he should look 
elsewhere, his choice is usually swallowed up, little 
by little, in her husband's entourage, and drifts out 
of her original sphere. The latter proceeding must 
be almost as painful as giving up one's nationality. 

I can not imagine a Fraulein von X. marrying 
Herr Fabrikant Z., and not retaining an inborn 
contempt for his friends and his ways; I can not 
imagine either that his friends will ever forget that 
she is an aristocrat and an outsider, or cease to 
suspect her of arrogance. I can not imagine a 
Fraulein M. marrying a Herr von N., and ever 
feeling herself quite at home among her hus- 
band's people. If she is experienced, she will know 
that the first question they will ask is: "Was fur 
eine geborene war sie?" and that the answer will 
remind them that she is not "One of Us." Hence 
people marrying out of their own circles must be 
prepared for some bad moments, and the practice is 
not encouraged. 

I have just given examples from the two larg- 
est and most important circles — the Aristocratic 
and Bourgeois — but I could give examples from all 



48 THE GERMANS 

the others, which are circles within circles. If they 
are less strictly defined and exclusive from a matri- 
monial standpoint, they are still socially all-im- 
portant. A lawyer's friends are lawyers, and if an 
officer or a professor or a doctor drifts into his 
"dinners," he is and remains an outsider — almost a 
foreigner. The professor clings to his colleagues, 
and has no interest for any one else, and his wife 
must choose her women friends from the same cir- 
cle. It is obvious, therefore, that if a host, through 
exceptional circumstances, has friends in more than 
one circle, it behooves him to be careful. Not that 
it would be exactly a faux pas to invite the profes- 
sor with the officer, but it would undoubtedly be a 
deliberate flying in the face of the good fairy who 
presides over successful social gatherings. The 
officer and the professor would, of course, be ex- 
quisitely polite, but they would have nothing to say, 
and both would go home grumbling at each other 
and at the host. This is perhaps an extreme case, 
because the two professions stand in every country 
at opposite poles. I can put the case clearer when I 
observe that, if you are inviting officers, it bodes 
well for you if you manage to get them all out of 
the same regiment. If you give a mixed party, you 
will see at once that the mixture is a failure — that, 






THE MAGIC CIRCLES 49 

in fact, the guests do not mix. The situation is still 
more marked when officers and civilians are invited 
together. In a moment the "Gesellschaft" divides 
itself into two distinct camps, the civilians keep to 
one side of the room, the officers to the other, and 
nothing on earth will bring them together. They 
will be exaggeratedly polite to one another, and 
this alone is enough to spoil the "Stimmung." And 
even worse would be an invitation which included 
Jews and — we will say — officers. Such a proceed- 
ing would be regarded as unpardonable tactless- 
ness, and is almost unthinkable — it makes me quite 
uncomfortable even to suggest it. 

Of course, what I have said, with the exception 
of the Jewish question, applies itself more particu- 
larly to small "evenings." At a big ball or recep- 
tion, where the elements lose themselves, it is safe 
to invite any one you know, so long as each circle 
is sufficiently represented to prevent any one from 
feeling that he is an outsider. In any case it is rare 
for a host, unless he be in a high state post, to be- 
long to more than one circle. An instance may be 
given in the case of a professor of noble birth, who, 
besides his professional circle, belongs naturally to 
the Aristocratic Circle; or of a foreigner, whom 
the German does not count. For the German is 



So 



THE GERMANS 



more generous than his Anglo-Saxon cousin; he 
does not apply his rules and standards to any one 
but himself. The Baron Z. will be quite ready to 
accept the English manufacturer as a gentleman, 
because he knows that in England his own preju- 
dices do not exist, and that in England a manufac- 
turer can be, and very often is, of good birth. But 
toward his own people this big-heartedness at once 
stops. For the most part the Baron will only asso- 
ciate with his equals, the officer with the officer, the 
professor with the professor, and so on. I am 
speaking now, as always, of the South German, but 
in this particular instance my remarks apply with 
even more truth to the North German, who is in 
every way more exclusive and conservative. The 
Prussian officer is far more intolerant of the civil- 
ian than his southern comrade, and if he is "adelig" 
(noble), he is far more inclined to show his con- 
tempt for the bourgeois. 

This brings me to touch on the two great divi- 
sions in German society — the aristocracy and the 
middle classes. As I have said, in North Germany 
the division is more accentuated. The South Ger- 
man, as becomes his lighter, more easy-going 
character, can overlook such distinctions, and some- 
times he does, but not often. For the Kastengeist 




Picturesque suburbs 



THE MAGIC CIRCLES 51 

(caste-spirit, or whatever you like to call it), is by 
no means dead in Germany. It may be diminish- 
ing, but certainly it is still sufficiently powerful to 
inspire an outsider with awe, and, at first, indigna- 
tion. When I first came to Germany I thought the 
whole system a disgraceful piece of narrow-mind- 
edness, but gradually I grew accustomed to the 
idea, and now look upon it as a matter of course, 
and with as much sympathy as a foreigner can feel 
for an entirely German way of looking at things. 

I must confess that the system sounds distinctly 
snobbish. The officer sounds snobbish when he is 
talking about the civilist, the barrister about the 
merchant, the Herr von So-and-So about the simple 
Herr Schmidt, the Geheimratin about her next- 
door neighbor, the titleless Frau Muller. And yet 
somehow the Germans do not impress me as a snob- 
bish people. Perhaps it is because the German, 
though his name and his title are everything to him, 
does not boast about either — there is, in fact, noth- 
ing for him to boast about, because he is always 
with people of the same rank, and does not care to 
be with those whom he might impress, or perhaps 
it is because his snobbishness rarely takes the most 
objectionable form of "purse pride." The time has 
not yet come in Germany when riches alone can buy 



52 THE GERMANS 

position. The poverty-stricken scion of an old and 
noble family still counts more than the parvenu 
with millions ; the most exclusive doors open to the 
ring of a good name, when money-bags jingle in 
vain. 

The position of the Jew proves my point. Not 
all the pressure in the world has enabled the wealth- 
iest Jew either to buy his way into good society or 
into the army; the merchant, unless he have some- 
thing else besides his money to back his pretensions, 
can not hope for connections in any other circle than 
his own. The elect hold tenaciously together, fight- 
ing desperately against all new-comers and espe- 
cially against the new-comer who tries to buy his 
admission. Snobbish it may be, narrow-hearted if 
you like, but for my taste, it is an evil with a 
healthy tendency — it rejects money as a touchstone ; 
it has surely a nobler savor about it than the hideous 
kotowing to wealth, which flourishes elsewhere, 
and I confess that I prefer the needy German baron 
with his sixteen quarterings and his snobbishness to 
our friend Sir Simpkins, with his bought title and 
his snobbishness, which is the most pitiful thing on 
earth. At any rate, there the fact stands — of all the 
circles of German society, that of the aristocracy 
is the most exclusive, the most tenacious of its privi- 



THE MAGIC CIRCLES 53 

leges. Other circles may relax their severity to- 
ward each other — the Geheimratin, the Frau Pro- 
fessor, the Frau Doktor, the Frau Kommerzienrat 
may all recognize each other as equals and some- 
times as friends, but the aristocrat stands apart. 

It is not that he never enters into foreign circles 
— he does, sometimes, because in these democratic 
days circumstances compel him, but he remains an 
exile, and he is only really at his ease among those 
of his own position. By the other circles he is 
looked upon with mingled feelings. The good 
bourgeois families — those who themselves can 
trace back honorable if unadorned names into the 
earlier centuries — look upon him with respect, and 
are proud if they figure on his visiting list, but 
there is a class by whom he is detested with a truly 
"sour grapes" detestation. The rich parvenu, the 
self-made man with democratic tendencies, the 
Jew, all these pour their spite and bitterness over 
the "junker," and are loud in their mockery of the 
"Kastengeist" which thrusts them outside the pale. 
Hence in the German Witzblatter, where the dem- 
ocratic spirit is at its height, you will always find 
the nobleman and the officer depicted as an imbe- 
cile, degenerate, arrogant ne'er-do-weel. There is 
no truth in the picture — no more than if a social- 



54 THE GERMANS 

democrat were painted as a red-capped anarchist 
going about with a bomb in one hand and a bloody 
knife in the other — it is simply the venomous out- 
pourings of a great class-hatred. The nobility is 
an openly privileged class — not only in society, but 
in every branch of state business. In the army the 
titled officer has always a greater chance than his 
"biirgherlicher" comrade, and plain Lieutenant 
Schmidt knows that unless he manifests exceptional 
abilities he is fairly certain to stumble at the fatal 
"Major's corner," as it is called; that unless he has 
proved worthy of having the patent of nobility con- 
ferred on him for that purpose, he will never be 
able to hold a high post. And in every case where 
the state is concerned the same rule holds good — 
family before everything. No matter how poor the 
family may be, so long as it is honorable, it can al- 
ways reckon on the support of the reigning house, 
and in fact of every one belonging to the mighty- 
Brotherhood. 

And all this^ quite naturally enough, excites 
extreme bitterness and hatred in the hearts of those 
who, perhaps more successful, see the gates shut 
against them because of their meaner birth. They 
see in the system a contemptible injustice, an ab- 
surd relic from the feudal ages. And yet it must be 



THE MAGIC CIRCLES $$ 

said in defense of the much-abused Kastengeist that 
it has its reasons, and it has its virtues. One of the 
virtues I have already mentioned — its hereditary 
indifference to wealth; another is that though the 
nobility shut their doors against the wealthy par- 
venu, they fling them wide open to the genius. The 
rich Jew will be passed over, but the poor musician, 
the struggling painter, if he possess the divine 
spark in his soul, can hope for the highest privi- 
leges in the land, and not hope in vain. I know of 
cases without number where untitled painters and 
musicians — peasant's sons some of them — have 
been the guests and intimate friends of the reigning 
duke, and have associated in the very circle where, 
had they been the richest merchants, they would 
have been ignored. The spirit which animated the 
old nobility in their patronage and love of genius 
exists to-day, and is one of the many reasons why 
the spirit of Art is at home in Germany, whereas 
in other countries it is more or less a pampered 
exile. 

Thus in justice we can not call the aristocrat nar- 
row-hearted, unless it is narrow-hearted to pick and 
choose the people with whom one wishes to asso- 
ciate. This he certainly does, and those who wish 
to pass into his magic circle must undergo a severe 



56 THE GERMANS 

test. It is not sufficient, as I have pointed out, that 
a man should be wealthy, that he should be well- 
dressed and have good manners. (The first of 
these advantages can be bought, the second is ex- 
pected of every one.) The questions which will be 
asked of him are: "What is your name? Who was 
your father? What was he? What are you?" If 
the name should be Schmidt, the father a trades- 
man, there is only one hope left in the question, 
"What are you?" and if the candidate can answer, 
"I am a good musician, a good painter, a genius 
even in a small way," he is saved, and he becomes 
a welcome guest even among the highest and the 
greatest. This is hardly snobbery; it bears within 
it the germ of a great idea — the idea of a class 
which is really elect, which really concentrates 
within itself the best and noblest blood of the na- 
tion. 

Does the democrat protest that the best and 
noblest blood is not to be found in the aristocracy, 
that birth and family are nothing, no guarantee for 
anything save perhaps degeneracy? I can only an- 
swer that I have no theories, and that I can only see 
what my eyes show me. And my eyes show me 
that the aristocracy of Germany — I include every 
grade from the baron to the imperial family — is one 



THE MAGIC CIRCLES 57 

of the finest, if not the finest, in Europe, and that 
among its members are to be found the best qual- 
ities of the Teuton — fidelity, Pflichtgefuhl, and pa- 
triotism — developed to the highest pitch of which 
they are capable. Let there be no exaggeration. 
There are counts and countesses who would be far 
better in the kitchen than in the court ball-room ; 
there are young scions of great houses who are in 
a state of over-cultivation, and consequently have 
lost all trace of greatness ; there are cads and scoun- 
drels in this mighty family, as there are in every 
family on earth. But I maintain that in the bulk 
the German aristocracy has a right to its pride and 
a right to its exclusiveness. It is a privileged class, 
not because of its past, but because its present bears 
the motto, "Noblesse oblige/' and because it hon- 
estly strives to live up to its own high standards. 

No doubt the "Noblesse oblige" is carried too 
far; it leads men and women to exaggerate the gulf 
between them and the other classes, and to maintain 
an almost Hebraic aloofness from everything and 
every one suspected of being "unclean," but the 
principle is a good one — even a great one. "We 
must not only abstain from evil, but from the 
appearance of evil," is the great law which 
governs the German nobleman's life. Hence, al- 



58 THE GERMANS 

most inevitably, the aristocracy shrinks back 
from the race for wealth. Let us imagine all the 
sons of our own nobility, from the duke to the 
lowest knight since time immemorial, having in- 
herited the titles and positions of their fathers, 
retaining the original pride of race, brought 
up to despise money-making in all its forms, 
and to hold King, country and name before all 
other earthly goods, and consequently growing 
steadily poorer, and we have a fairly accurate pic- 
ture of the German aristocracy as it stands to-day. 

I must repeat that there are always the excep- 
tions, and no doubt the exceptions are increasing. 
Hard times are driving the sons of old families into 
business, and the slow advancement in the army, 
and the inadequate pay, keep many from following 
the hereditary profession. But the old spirit lives, 
and has life in it to last for many generations to 
come. So long as it retains its loyalty, its high 
standard, its rigid code, its inimitable power of 
sacrifice, it will always be a mighty force in the 
nation. It is not always easy to live up to that high 
standard — the sacrifices are often very real, and 
sometimes tragic. I know personally of cases 
where gently nurtured women have endured hard- 
ships which would have disgusted an English 



THE MAGIC CIRCLES 59 

scullery-maid, and brought sacrifices — sometimes 
of a whole life's happiness — which would have 
been more than enough for the sternest ascetic, 
simply in order that the last representative of their 
name might live as became his rank and follow the 
profession of his fathers. 

And let no one throw stones at that last repre- 
sentative because he accepts the support and sacri- 
fices of women. He is only obeying the law which 
governs his class, and he, too, has a struggle to fight 
behind the seeming splendor. All this for a name 
— a phantom! It seems at first a pitiable waste of 
human strength and energy, and yet I suppose all 
ideals are phantoms; and surely better ideals of 
this sort than none at all, better these fetishes of 
name and honor than the Golden Calf ! Moreover, 
these ideals, phantoms though they seem, have 
helped to make the German nobleman a man apart, 
not only in his opinions, his faults and virtues, but 
in his appearance. 

I have no real explanation or theory to offer 
for this; but, as I have remarked before, it is pos- 
sible for any one with only moderate powers of 
observation to pick the nobleman out of a crowd of 
ordinary people. Is it that he has inherited a cer- 
tain cachet, is it that his position has lifted him to 



60 THE GERMANS 

a certain dignity, a higher sense of personal respon- 
sibility, his education taught him more considera- 
tion for his physical well-being? I do not profess 
to know. Probably everything has combined to 
produce in him a distinct type. At any rate, wealth 
has played no part in the make-up, for the German 
aristocrat is, as I have said, poor, and his life is one 
of extreme simplicity. The simplicity is not that of 
the bourgeois— often no more than indifference 
and lack of cultivated taste— it is the simplicity of 
the Spartan, stamped with refinement, and no mat- 
ter in what circumstances he lives, the nobleman 
is unmistakable. When he has the advantage of 
wealth, his inherited taste and culture are allowed 
full play, though they scarcely ever lead him to 
extreme luxury, and never to ostentation. He 
dresses well but simply, and his whole life contin- 
ues to be marked with a certain dignified quiet. At 
the bottom, though he appreciates the power of 
wealth, he does not admire it for itself, and he does 
not care for it to be admired. He would consider 
it bad taste to flaunt his money in the world's face, 
and he avoids all "show." Refinement of living 
and a quiet elegance are his sole luxuries, but they 
divide him widely from the circle beneath him. 
The circle beneath the aristocracy is the so-called 




Sans Souci, Potsdam 
The Great Frederick's refuge from the cares of state 



THE MAGIC CIRCLES 61 

middle-class, which, if solide, is usually neither 
very refined nor elegant. Here, too, there are ex- 
ceptions. I know bourgeois families altogether 
charming in themselves and in their mode of life — 
I speak simply of the mass. It is the mass of this 
circle which the Englishman describes when he 
comes home from his German holiday as "typical," 
and he compares it to the well-to-do middle-class 
in England, finding therefore sufficient reason to 
laugh at the small, cramped life which his German 
equivalent leads. But the English middle-class does 
not yet exist in Germany; it is an exclusively Eng- 
lish class, just as the nobility in Germany is an en- 
tirely German class; and if it is to be compared at 
all, it can only be compared to the wealthier section 
of the German aristocracy. But then this aristoc- 
racy is reserved and exclusive, and the average 
English traveler sees nothing of it. 

I remember my own surprise one evening when 
a Gala opera was being given in honor of some 
royal birthday. I was new to German ways and 
German people, and it was a revelation to me to see 
the finely built, often elegantly dressed men and 
women who replaced the usual dowdy audience. 
For the first time I was brought to realize the exist- 
ence of a quiet world living entirely its own life, 



62 



THE GERMANS 



and showing itself rarely to the vulgar gaze. Yet 
this world is the world to which the English gen- 
tleman belongs, it is the only world he has the right 
to compare with his own. Professionally he may 
belong to the same class as the Doktor Schulz or 
the Fabrikant Muller, but in culture and upbring- 
ing he belongs "higher up." It is the average 
Englishman's mistake on this point which leads to 
a whole string of misconceptions. We will suppose 
that Mr. Smith, lawyer, goes to Germany with an 
introduction to Herr Schmidt, Rechtsanwalt. He 
will probably find that in everything — in manners, 
in style, in mode of life, his host is at least several 
grades lower than himself. The Herr Schmidt may 
be the kindest-hearted man alive, but he is possibly 
in every-day life a rather slovenly, stuffy, disorderly 
person, who would not think of changing in the 
evening and, perhaps, neglects the morning tub. 
He lives in the style of a small tradesman, but 
from a professional standpoint and also in educa- 
tion he is Mr. Smith's equal. His sons will no 
doubt live as we consider a gentleman should live, 
but he, poor man, has fought for his position too 
hard to have energy enough left to strive after re- 
finement. He belongs to a class which has strug- 
gled up heroically from the people, and in a 



THE MAGIC CIRCLES 63 

hand-to-hand battle with poverty won for itself the 
first great step upward — education. It is educated, 
highly educated even, but the struggle has given it 
no time or opportunity to attain the outward polish 
which English people of the same positions were 
beginning to cultivate thirty or forty years ago. 

As soon as we realize that outward culture is 
only the result of inherited wealth, we shall under- 
stand why the German middle-class is so far behind 
our own that we can hardly compare them. Doc- 
tors, professors, architects, lawyers, small officials 
— they belong for the greater part to the tribe of the 
"Spieszbiirgherlicher." But it is only a question of 
time before a class will arise out of their midst and 
form a real and worthy bridge between the aristoc- 
racy and the lower orders. How short that time 
will be I will not venture to say; but the German, 
now that he has overcome his old stumbling-blocks, 
disunity and poverty, is moving fast. Gradually 
the upward striving middle-class, the wealthy and 
traveled merchant, the nobleman with his ideals but 
without his prejudices, will drift together, and, 
meeting at last on common ground, form a compact 
whole, the great bulwark of the nation and the im- 
mense force which, whether it be in peace or war, 
we shall one day have to confront. 



64 THE GERMANS 

But all that is in the future. At present the di- 
viding Kastengeist, having for its raison d'etre very 
real differences, still exists and holds class from 
class, profession from profession. The Grosskauf- 
mann, with his wealth and resulting luxury, but 
without social position; the professional man with 
position, but as yet without wealth, and conse- 
quently lacking outward culture; the nobleman 
with his inherited culture, but ever lessening 
wealth, stand apart and take small interest in each 
other. 

But the gulf has narrowed, and is narrowing 
with every year. 






CHAPTER V 

KARLSRUHE SOCIABILITIES 

My Karlsruhe friends — like most South Germans 
— are sociable rather than hospitable. That is not 
to say that they are inhospitable — which would be 
a base calumny — but if they can meet together 
without any grand outlay for entertaining, why, so 
much the better. And the reason therefor is ex- 
tremely simple — most of them can not afford it. 
The first fact that every one must grasp in consider- 
ing German life outside the great cities is that 
riches, even moderate riches in our sense of the 
word, are still rare, and where they are not rare 
they are at least so new that the possessors have not 
learned to use them. They cling tenaciously to the 
careful, economical ways of their neighbors, and 
an invitation, no matter how small, is always an 
event. 

I know an English lady who came to Karlsruhe 
with very warm introductions, and was disgusted 
because one family fulfilled its obligations toward 
6S 



66 THE GERMANS 

her with an afternoon tea! She would have felt 
differently if she had known what preparations, 
what anxiety that tea had cost! I suppose she 
thought that the cakes and little sandwiches were 
the usual things, and that she had been simply 
asked to share in a common household meal. But 
indeed no! Each cake, each sandwich, was a lux- 
ury indulged in on only great occasions; and had 
my English friend paid a surprise visit she would 
have found the family drinking coffee, at most, 
with an accompaniment of rolls and bread and but- 
ter. 

Thus to be invited to a tea in Karlsruhe, whether 
it be chez the countess or the simple bourgeoise, is 
always more or less a serious business. There is no 
idea of "dropping in." "Dropping in" is in fact a 
very rare custom. People pay their formal calls 
at twelve o'clock before dinner, and are usually not 
even received. The called-upon knows that the 
caller is on a mighty round, and the card tells her 
all that the caller wanted to say, "Don't forget me 
when you are inviting — I have called!" In the 
afternoon only the most intimate members of the 
circle are allowed the privilege of "dropping in," 
and even then the treatment of the "dropper-in" 
(forgive, reader, the truly German temptation to 



KARLSRUHE SOCIABILITIES 67 

coin words!) would shock an English hostess be- 
yond expression. We will suppose that you are an 
intimate friend of Frau Schmidt. Chance has led 
you to call on her family at tea-time. She will re- 
ceive you with open arms, you will be planted on the 
sofa in the place of honor and implored to stay — 
but no refreshments will be offered you. If there are 
other members of Frau Schmidt's family present 
they will slip out one by one, and return with a 
pleasant odor of coffee about them. And you must 
not be surprised or hurt. Frau Schmidt is really 
glad to see you, but it does not occur to her that 
you might want the coffee or the plain bread and 
butter which formed the rest of her repast. 

But if she asks you to tea that is another matter. 
Then she moves heaven and earth and all the con- 
fectioners in Karlsruhe to make the invitation a 
magnificent function; and you, as becomes so seri- 
ous a business, will be expected to take off your 
coat and hat and prepare to make an afternoon and 
an evening of it. According to your hostess' means 
and position it will be a terrible or a tolerable time 
— I must confess that it is not likely to be amus- 
ing. We will suppose that she belongs to the well- 
to-do aristocracy. In that case the entertainment 
takes the form of an "at home," to which both 



68 THE GERMANS 

sexes are invited. Tea is handed round, and people 
wander about and talk to one another or listen 
to the music. For of course there is always some 
one in the company who can either play or sing — 
usually very well. So far so good — quite a Van- 
glaise except for the last point — but the difference 
comes in when you realize that it is a Great Invi- 
tation. You can not wander in for half an hour 
or so and then wander out again. You have got to 
stay — unless you are possessed of unusual cunning 
— right to the bitter end. And the bitter end may 
be anywhere between seven and eight o'clock. 

In these "at homes" the four-hour sitting is toler- 
able, if only because of the mixed crowd and the 
consequent amusement of being able to watch and 
observe; but a really genuine "Spieszbiirgherliche" 
afternoon tea-party is the most deadly and exhaust- 
ing thing I know. It begins at four o'clock, and it 
goes on inevitably till eight. There are usually two 
sets of people invited — young girls and old ladies. 
After an enormous sit-down tea, in which every- 
thing is present in the edible line from Caviar 
Brotchen to ices, the two parties divide and sit 
huddled together in adjoining rooms, and are 
bored to extinction. No one dares move until the 
eldest lady decides to take her departure, and as 



KARLSRUHE SOCIABILITIES 69 

Fate has it that she must always be the one and 
only person to enjoy herself, there is no hope of 
escaping before the four hours have elapsed. 

Thus you can see that a German afternoon tea 
can be a ponderous and serious thing, not to be 
despised and not to be partaken of in too large quan- 
tities. It has the fault of most German entertain- 
ments — it lasts too long. A German dinner-party 
has exactly the same disadvantage. It is not that 
so much is eaten or drunk, but it never comes to an 
end. The people sit and sit and talk and talk till 
you would think that no human constitution could 
stand more, and as every one uses his natural voice, 
the confusion is sometimes nerve-wracking. Of 
course the dinner is a very great event in most 
families, and it is an honor to be invited. In fact it 
is an honor to be invited to anything, and that is 
why Karlsruhe hospitality is usually rather con- 
strained, rather formal. The invited knows the 
grandeur of the occasion, and is consequently too 
awed to be at his ease. 

As to the practice of receiving visitors for an 
actual stay, it is the rarest thing of all. As I have 
before intimated, the South German's tendency is 
to let himself go in his own home, and the anxieties 
and efforts which the presence of a stranger entails 



jo THE GERMANS 

exhaust him. It is not as though a guest could 
slip in with the rest of the household; special ar- 
rangements have to be made on his account, and 
many inconveniences suffered. In North Germany 
this is different; there the country life gives a 
greater freedom and opportunity for hospitality. 
In South Germany the flat-system and the extreme 
simplicity in which the German lives, is in itself a 
barrier against a constant flow of guests, and one 
can safely say that for him the greatest luxury pos- 
sible is to invite. And yet, as I have said, he is 
sociable. No man on earth more so. The English- 
man, in spite of his "open house and week-end 
visits," etc., is a recluse and a hermit compared to 
the Teuton, who is never so happy as when he is 
with other people — in a crowd if possible. What- 
ever he undertakes he likes to be in company. 

Hence flats and crowded railway carriages have 
no horrors for him; he detests "English hotels," be- 
cause English people do not mix with strangers, 
prefer separate tables, and hold themselves gen- 
erally aloof. His wife and his children are just like 
him. On their travels they are ready to make 
friends with every one, and at home they organize 
their Kranzchen. Show me the German woman 
or the German Backfische who does not belong to 




Picturesque buildings in a picturesque setting 



KARLSRUHE SOCIABILITIES 71 

a Kranzchen! If it is the Backfische it can be any 
sort of a Kranzchen — a Tanzkranzchen, an Eng- 
lischkranzchen, a Franzosischekranzchen, a Nah- 
kranzchen. A certain number of her school-friends 
(of the same circle, bien entendu) come together 
once or twice a week and read, sew, or talk Eng- 
lish or French together. They take it in turns to 
visit one another's houses, so that in one winter each 
family has had the Kranzchen once. Her mother's 
life is built up on the same system. She, too, be- 
longs to a Kranzchen. I know quite elderly women 
who regularly, twice a week, read Shakespeare to- 
gether in English with the assistance of an English 
teacher. Others, the grandmothers chiefly, play 
whist together, or work together, in fact do any- 
thing so long as it is together. 

On the other hand, club life is almost unknown 
among the masculine element. It is considered 
"bad tone" for a man to go out in the evenings 
without his wife, and the whole rigor and serious- 
ness of an English club would anyhow appal the 
German's cheerful, talkative temperament. To sit 
for hours in dead silence and read the newspapeis 
is a proceeding which has no sort of attraction for 
him. One newspaper is enough, and that much he 
can enjoy in the bosom of his family. Curiously 



72 THE GERMANS 

enough, the lower one goes in the social scale the 
more one finds "societies" which dimly resemble 
the club. Every little shopkeeper belongs to a 
Verein. It is usually a "Gesangsverein." A few 
dozen men of the same class join together, and 
once or twice a week meet in a Wirtshaus (public- 
house) and sing — sometimes under the direction of 
a proper teacher. I do not think the neighbors care 
for it, but that is a detail. There are, of course, 
other Vereins for shooting, bowls, for the old sol- 
diers, etc., but the idea is always the same, mutual 
support and the pleasure of being together for a 
set purpose, with as little expense as possible. 

These Vereins and Kranzchen play a very im- 
portant part in German social life, and to a great 
extent take the place of regular entertaining, but 
they do not, strictly speaking, include hospitality. 
In the Kranzchen, for instance, the members sit 
together for two hours or so and then go away — 
probably without having partaken of any form of 
refreshment. No inhospitality is meant. They ar- 
range to have their tea beforehand, and thus the 
hostess is spared all expense and trouble. I think 
this capacity for living, from a social standpoint, 
without material sustenance is proof of the Ger- 
man's extreme love of company. If the inevitable 



KARLSRUHE SOCIABILITIES 73 

cup of tea was ignored in England, I am quite sure 
that afternoon calls would droop and languish. In 
England the cup of tea is the raison d'etre of the 
whole performance. So long as she has a cup of 
tea in her hand, so long the English guest can hold 
out with gossip. Five minutes after she has said 
"No more, thank you," she goes. The business of 
the afternoon is over. The German lady is differ- 
ent. She comes to talk, to read, or to work, as the 
case may be, and tea would be an interruption and 
a nuisance. The other day we invited a young mu- 
sician for the evening — after supper, of course — in 
order that we might play some trios together. I 
was too English not to insist on some sort of re- 
freshment being handed round, so we made the 
most delightful little sandwiches and cakes. Great 
indignation on the part of our guest as, after the 
first "movement," the edibles were handed round. 
"We are here to play — not to eat!" was his stern 
protest, and, crushed and humbled, I hurried my 
offerings out of sight. 

There is one form of entertainment which must 
not be forgotten where youth is concerned, and that 
is the Tanzerei. Everybody in Germany dances 
passionately, if only for the never-to-be-forgotten 
reason that it is an excuse to come together, and 



74 THE GERMANS 

consequently everybody, rich or poor, endeavors 
to give a Tanzerei at least once a year. A Tanzerei 
is not a ball, and English people would hardly 
honor it with the title of dance. It can take place 
at any time in the afternoon or evening, and there 
are rarely more than eight or ten couples, but of 
all typical German forms of pleasure it is the most 
delightful. Here there is no stiffness and formality. 
The drawing-room carpet is rolled up, a piano 
player engaged, everybody dances with everybody 
without programme, games are played — the more 
childish the better — and the German reveals him- 
self as a charming, unaffected host and guest. 

In the well-to-do families a Tanzerei is always 
delightfully arranged — an elegant ball in minia- 
ture — with a dainty sit-down supper and a profu- 
sion of flowers; but perhaps it would be of more 
interest to describe the genuine "Spieszburgher- 
liche Tanzerei" — the great social effort as made by 
a family of the class which I have already desig- 
nated as "educated." 

I was invited to just such an entertainment 
shortly before Christmas. The host was, of course, 
a man with a long title, the hostess a stout, good- 
natured, motherly person with three plain daugh- 
ters, the place of entertainment a far from 



KARLSRUHE SOCIABILITIES 75 

commodious and somewhat stuffy flat of eight 
rooms. English people in the same circumstances 
would not have dreamed of giving a dance. They 
would have thought it beneath their dignity to re- 
veal such a shabby condition of things. They would 
have saved for years, or got into debt, and hired a 
hall and a caterer, and done the thing in style. They 
would have been ashamed of everything, knowing 
pretty well that their friends would have put the 
price on the wine and the food, and known exactly 
how much the new dress had cost, and whether it 
was new at all, or only a turned and dyed edition 
of last year's. But mine host was not in the least 
ashamed — he had no reason to be. He knew that 
everybody knew who he was and what his income 
was, and that his friends, living no better or worse 
themselves, would not be critical, but come and 
enjoy themselves, and make the best of everything. 
And I, knowing what I was to expect, did likewise. 
Punctual to the hour I clambered up the steep 
stone steps which led to the third floor, in company 
with other little parties of guests, most of whom 
had come on foot with wraps and goloshes. We 
smiled uncertainly at one another as we stood 
crowded together on the landing, and after a mo- 
ment an excited little maid with a white cap and 



76 THE GERMANS 

apron — for the occasion — opened the door, and 
with grins and nods, as though she were joint 
hostess and delighted to see us, led the way into the 
bedroom which had been turned into a ladies' 
garde-robe. No doubt it was the eldest daughter's 
bedroom, but everything personal had been 
cleared away, and everything was in immaculate 
order. There was, of course, a great deal of gig- 
gling and whispering among the younger mem- 
bers of the party. Everybody was fighting for a last 
glimpse in the little looking-glass, and pathetic ap- 
peals, "Maria, Elsa, is everything all right be- 
hind?" were loud, until at last we were ready, and 
a general move was made toward the room. The 
room was the salon, and mine host's study, which 
had been sacrilegiously demolished of its solemnity 
and turned into a second ball-room for the over- 
flow. The carpets had disappeared; stiff plush 
chairs were arranged around the walls; the parquet 
flooring glistened threateningly at unwary feet, and 
told its tale of a long afternoon's polishing, in 
which — who knows? — even the Geheimrat himself 
might have lent a hand. 

A few guests had already arrived, and were 
standing about in little groups. For the most part 
they consisted of young people who, as always in 



KARLSRUHE SOCIABILITIES 77 

English eyes, looked a good deal older than they 
really were (in Germany a girl is distinctly passee 
at twenty-five) . The elder folk had already retired 
to the chairs, and one could see how the cheerful 
matrons in black silk and straining gloves were ex- 
changing compliments on their respective daugh- 
ters'. With a little previous experience one could 
follow every word they said. 

"Ach, liebe Frau Professor, how charming your 
Elsa is looking to-night — so much grace and An- 
mut! And that sweet dress — how it becomes her! 
I wish I could get something so "passend" for my 
Marie!" 

Tears of gratitude and motherly pride rushed to 
the Frau Professor's bright eyes. I could not see 
them, but I knew they were there, because I know 
the Frau Professor. 

"She made it herself," she then began to explain 
eagerly. "I can not tell you how hard the poor 
child worked to get it done in time. Is not the stuff 
wonderful? It looks like silk, but it isn't. It's a 
new stuff, which looks just like the real thing, and 
is half the price." 

General exclamations of wonder! It was then 
the Frau Professor's turn to tell her friend how 
"reizend" Marie was, what sweet manners, what 



78 THE GERMANS 

grace. Everybody was sincerely delighted with 
everybody else. Everybody was "ein Herz und eine 
Seele," as they themselves would have said. 1 
looked about me. I picked out the much prized 
Marie and Elsa, and discovered them to be plain, 
good-natured-looking girls in rather short and de- 
cidedly home-made frocks, modestly decollete. 
Their masses of heavy, somewhat colorless hair 
were done neatly, but without much taste, and they 
wore white mittens. Altogether my English friends 
would have thought very little of them, I am 
afraid, but they were enjoying themselves as though 
they were kings' daughters and wore queens' 
dresses. The elder and best-looking of the three 
house-daughters was tete-a-tete with her fiance, a 
serious young man, who appeared some years older 
than he really was — perhaps the problem of a dou- 
ble menage on nothing a year worried him. Mine 
hostess told me that the Braut was nearly ready 
with her trousseau, and that it was very grand in- 
deed. I could quite believe it, since it had been the 
object of the most careful thought for at least two 
years. Altogether the Geheimratin was in great 
spirits, and she sailed proudly from one little group 
to another like a frigate with every stitch of canvas 
stretched. Her husband, the Geheimrat, was less 



KARLSRUHE SOCIABILITIES 79 

prominent. A shy little man, in a badly-fitting suit 
of evening clothes, he gave the impression of being 
nervously pleased, and much in awe of his wife's 
sang froid. 

At last all the guests had arrived, twelve de- 
clared dancing couples, and the elderly people who 
might be tempted into a waltz later on in the even- 
ing. Only one person was still lacking — the Or- 
chestre. Then he too arrived — a stout gentleman 
with a bundle of old music under his arm, who, 
after a courteous inclination toward the rest of the 
company, seated himself at the piano against the 
wall, and plunged boldly into the Blue Danube. 

I must mention that the Orchestre is a great per- 
son in Karlsruhe. Everybody knows him — he is the 
patron at every feast, rich or poor. In the daytime 
he gives music lessons, in the evening, for the sum 
of ten marks, he will play you dance music till your 
feet are worn out, beaming the while on the whirl- 
ing couples with kindly paternal interest. And 
what feeling there is in his waltzes! No wonder 
the Geheimrat threw off his embarrassment, and 
with a deep bow offered his unpracticed powers to 
the Frau Professor, a very portly person in mauve, 
who looked, should any accident befall, as though 
she would inevitably crush her cavalier out of all 



80 THE GERMANS 

recognition. But fortunately the Geheimrat had a 
good eye and a firm arm. He steered round the 
little room with complete success, and the ball thus 
opened proceeded merrily. As usual there were 
three or four superfluous men, passionately fond 
of dancing and equally anxious to have their turn, 
so that there was no rest, no sitting-out (sitting-out 
in any form is absolutely tabooed everywhere) . 

One or two of them danced very well, the greater 
part moderately, one or two skirt-rendingly, but 
well or ill they all danced. There were no lag- 
gards, and they bumped or piloted their partners 
round the crowded room with equal cheerfulness. 
And their manners were exquisite. Yes, it is not to 
be denied that their coats were far from being well 
cut, their shoes not all above criticism, their whole 
appearance neither elegant nor distingue, but they 
had a kindly honest courtesy about them which 
atoned — obliterated — everything else. They did 
not dance as though it were a favor, or wander 
about with their hands in their pockets looking 
intensely bored. They did not leave the conversa- 
tion to their partners, and answer in sulky mono- 
syllables. They appeared grateful for attention, 
and did their uttermost to be entertaining. I no- 
ticed this latter feature at the supper-hour, when, 



KARLSRUHE SOCIABILITIES 81 

on the arm of a young architect, I was led into the 
dining-room. Truth to tell there was little of the 
dining-room left. It was all table, with just enough 
room at the sides and end for the chairs and the 
people who were to sit on them. But what did it 
matter if there was scarcely room for one's elbows? 
We were all in such good spirits that the constant 
apologies to one's neighbor only added to the gen- 
eral hilarity. 

Thus we began the feast. It was a very sim- 
ple affair. Cold meat, ham, and sausage (alas! 
I am fallen so low that I have a shamefaced 
liking for German sausage, which is made of gee- 
gee and bow-wow, as every Englishman knows!) 
with Italian salade came first, followed by cheese 
and Pumpernickel, the whole accompanied by bot- 
tles of wholesome, if somewhat sour, landwine. All 
through this repast my young architect never 
stopped talking — in fact everybody talked, and as 
loud as they possibly could, so that it was difficult 
to hear your own voice. But my companion had 
good lungs, and somehow or other kept me thor- 
oughly entertained. At last, after all the necessary 
toasts had been given, we returned to the "ball- 
room," and the fun continued until one o'clock, 
with intervals for lemonade and beer, handed 



82 THE GERMANS 

round by our earlier acquaintance, the excited 
maid-of-all-work, who, in spite of fatigue, was still 
as cheerful and smiling as ever. We danced the 
lancers with stately gravity, the minuet-waltz with 
grace, the Franchise with a truly wonderful "go," 
but at no time did we descend to romping. Every- 
thing retained a certain stamp of decorum. 

After midnight signs of fatigue made them- 
selves manifest; the air had become distinctly 
"dry," and the dancing had been kept up with such 
vigor that everybody was beginning to think of the 
home journey. A last waltz was ordered. The Or- 
chestre poured forth a pot-pourri from his whole 
repertoire, and one danced with everybody in turn. 
Then the piano's tone grew softer and slower, a last 
trill, a last run, a general sigh, half of exhaustion, 
half of regret, that one can not partake even of good 
things for ever, and the Great Evening was at an 
end. Of course there was the inevitable standing 
about and talking; congratulations pour in from 
every side, and I, having long since learnt my les- 
son, was not backward in my expressions of grati- 
tude and admiration. Consequently my kind hosts 
and I parted on the best of terms, and I wended my 
way homeward with the satisfaction of knowing 
that it had been a "typical German evening." 



KARLSRUHE SOCIABILITIES 83 

Do not, I beg, look contemptuous and say, "I 
told you so! That is just the sort of third-rate un- 
couth sort of entertainment I should imagine the 
Germans enjoying." It is, as a matter of fact, typi- 
cal of one class, but there are other classes and 
other entertainments which would no doubt sur- 
prise you. Moreover, I must remind you that my 
Geheimrat is poor. He may be well-to-do in his 
own eyes, because he has neither pretension nor 
vanity, but you would catalogue him as poor, 
especially considering the price of living in Karls- 
ruhe. Thus, if he were what you would call re- 
fined, he would not be able to entertain at all, and 
would have to live in a miserable state of solitude. 
And solitude is the one thing he can not stand, so 
he entertains, and does it in the only way his means 
and his consideration for the future allow him. No 
doubt it is a very inelegant bourgeois way, but 
then he is bourgeois — "spieszburgherlich," as he is 
described by his own countrymen — and it is quite 
good enough for his tastes and the taste of his 
friends. Moreover, there is something so harmless 
and natural and friendly in the whole thing, that 
unless one is blinded by prejudice and snobbery of 
the worst type, it is impossible not to feel warmly 
toward the host and lenient toward the feast. I 



84 THE GERMANS 

am not even sure that there is not an atmosphere 
in those little evenings which is healthier, saner, 
more human, more genuine, more promising, than 
in the grandest London functions, and I make no 
pretense at jeering at the fashions of the simple 
Geheimrat and his simpler Geheimratin. They 
lead the simple life because they are simple, and 
they are such elemental folk, so unpretentious and 
natural, that one can see straight through to their 
hearts, which are above all else honest and kind. 
For my part that is all that matters, and he who 
can afford to jeer at the dowdy clothes and the beer 
and the sausage has my sincere sympathy! 



CHAPTER VI 

CHRISTMAS 

GERMANY without Christmas — or better — Christ- 
mas without Germany! For me the one state is as 
unthinkable as the other. After comparing my ex- 
periences, I can but come to the conclusion that 
there is no country in the world where Christmas 
flourishes with so much of its old truth, so much of 
its own true feeling — in fact, where Christmas is 
so intensely "Christmasy," as in the Fatherland. I 
do not want to hurt anybody's feelings with this 
statement, and I must at once admit that my experi- 
ence is not very wide. It extends only over Eng- 
land, France, Belgium, and Italy, and I have no 
doubt that, for instance, the Yankees make the sea- 
son an occasion for great magnificence, the Rus- 
sians for pomp and ceremonial, and so throughout 
the whole Christian world, each land imprinting 
its own national characteristics upon the festival. 

I am afraid my recollections of an English 
Christmas are rather dull. The one real joy was 

85 



86 THE GERMANS 

the Christmas shopping, but the day itself was like 
a glorified Sunday, on which one ate a good deal 
more than was good for one, and had to maintain 
through plum-pudding and every other similar evil 
an appearance of unabated cheerfulness. In my 
childhood, I believe, the matter was better; there 
was the thrilling excitement of the stocking which 
kept up a genuine animation until after breakfast, 
but then things fell rather flat — it was impossible 
to get away from the feeling that it was Sunday. 

In Rome my feelings were entirely different. 
Strange as it may sound in this stronghold of early 
Christianity, in spite of pomp and ceremonial, 
Christmas itself seemed absolutely out of its ele- 
ment. I could imagine it as a lonely, unhappy 
spirit wandering among a crowd of strangers, 
who, while loading it with beautiful and precious 
gems, neither understood its heart nor its language. 
Where I was staying the people had erected a 
magnificent Christmas tree, and covered it with 
decorations of every description, but — somehow it 
was not a real Christmas tree, any more than the 
Christmas itself was real. It was a transplanted 
thing, artificially kept alive in a foreign soil. 

Perhaps the pomp of it all stood in the way, for 
I always think of the Christmas spirit as a simple 



CHRISTMAS 87 

little child, who would be very happy to sing carols 
beside a tiny shrub in some poor German garret, 
but would shrink back involuntarily from the offer 
of gems and rich incense. And it is that childish, 
open-hearted simplicity which, so it seems to me, 
makes Christmas essentially German, or at any rate 
explains why it is that nowhere else in the world 
does it find so pure an expression. The German is 
himself simple, warm-hearted, unpretentious, with 
something at the bottom of him w T hich is childlike 
in the best sense. He is the last "Naturmensch" 
in civilization, and the Naturmensch is always 
naive, always single-minded, whether for good or 
evil. There are fewer problems in his character, 
fewer dark, mysterious places, fewer Machiavel- 
lian twists and turnings; his heart is easily stirred, 
easily moved to respond to the touch of all that is 
sincerely, truly human. With such a man the 
"Christkind" can be itself without make-believe 
and artifice — it can display its humblest attributes, 
which are its noblest, and know that he will under- 
stand, that he will treasure it the more because it 
was born in a poor manger, and carries no richer 
gift in its feeble hands than an all-embracing love. 
Yes, all that is something for the German "Ge- 
mut!" It suits the German as well as a play suits an 



88 THE GERMANS 

actor for whose character and temperament it has 
been especially written. He revels in it, and I really 
believe that the German Atheist "understands" the 
spirit of Christmas better than hundreds of good 
Christians from other lands. Perhaps the atmos- 
phere helps. Perhaps the crisp north winds blow- 
ing over the Black Forest, where the fir-tree bears 
its burden of virgin snow, waiting for the hour 
when it shall be called thence to decorate some hu- 
man home, carries with it a mysterious perfume, a 
mysterious something which I can not describe, but 
which I feel and understand. Perhaps the knowl- 
edge that all those around me feel it and under- 
stand it as I do makes its power all the greater. It 
seems to bring us all, rich and poor, friend and foe, 
into a wonderful communion which we can not and 
will not resist. 

I write this while the snow is still on the ground, 
and I can still feel vibrations from the emotion 
which the great evening stirs to life in most Ger- 
man hearts. That sounds as though only German 
hearts could experience it, but as I am English the 
contradiction is obvious. I merely mean that there 
is something in the atmosphere, and that whereas in 
England Christmas was for me a much over-rated 
festivity, it has become a time of real deep rejoicing 



CHRISTMAS 89 

to which I look back with tenderness, to which I 
look forward with hope. 

So much for the "Stimmung" — or at least so 
much as the reader no doubt cares to hear about 
it, for personally I could go on for ever with my 
efforts to describe what is indescribable. Neverthe- 
less, as I fear the word "Stimmung" may reoccur 
often in this chapter and elsewhere, I will hasten to 
explain for the benefit of those who have not been 
initiated into the mysteries of that great and un- 
translatable German word, that it means the "some- 
thing" which can unite an immense assembly of 
strangers in one bond of enthusiasm, of joy, or of 
sorrow. It is the longed-for guest at all festivities, 
the silent companion in every hour of general 
mourning and at Christmas — why, at Christmas it 
is everything, everywhere. It hovers in the streets, 
in the gay shop windows, over the Christmas-tree 
— it follows the Christkind wheresoever it goes, 
and without it Christmas would be no more than a 
cold and dreary specter. 

And now for facts, and I would that the mys- 
terious spirit which I have endeavored to describe 
would guide my pen and help me to touch them 
with the charm which they possess for those who 
know a German Christmas! To begin with, I must 



9 o THE GERMANS 

mention a peculiarity which, I believe, is Karls- 
ruhe's very own. As a rule extremely indifferent to 
fashion, which it follows — so the bitter saying goes 
— some ten years after, it is yet very attentive to 
seasons. Carnival is signaled immediately after 
Christmas by the appearance of fancy dresses and 
masks in the shop windows; on Ash Wednesday 
everything pertaining to such frivolity is bundled 
out of sight, and one sees the most unlikely objects 
labeled as suitable presents for confirmation can- 
didates ; after that comes Easter with its eggs, and 
Easter hares in every conceivable form of eatable 
stuffs, more or less dangerous for the human con- 
stitution. In summer there is a lull, during which 
the shopkeeper seems to lose interest in life, but 
from October onward one notices a slight stir. 

Half-shamefaced indications are to be observed 
which are intended to remind the passer-by that 
the hour is not far off when he must be prepared to 
open his purse as wide as it will stretch. And then, 
lo and behold! we have scarce passed into drear 
November when bold notices bearing "Weihnachts- 
geschenke" in fancy letters, with holly and icicles 
for ornamentation, appear in the shop-windows, 
and skates dangling in long rows are marked for 
the benefit of the ignorant shopper as "seasonable." 



CHRISTMAS 91 

Few people buy anything save perhaps those with 
relations in far-off countries, and the shopkeeper 
remains fairly unobtrusive with his suggestions, 
but Christmas is already in the air. Three Sundays 
before the day the signal is given, not only in Karls- 
ruhe, but all over Germany. It is the so-called 
Copper Sunday, when all the shops are left open 
so that the poor folk from the country, bound all 
the week by their business, may also come and take 
their share in the general present-buying. 

The title "Copper" is derived from the mer- 
chants' expectations and realizations, which, on the 
first of the three Sundays, are not very great. For 
the country people share the common human fail- 
ing of "putting things off," and, knowing that they 
have time enough before them, they let the first 
opportunity slip past. But the next Sunday shows 
an improvement ; the streets are more crowded, there 
is an increased hustle and bustle ; here and there one 
sees an old Black Forest peasant with his long black 
cloak flapping about his knees, his red waist- 
coat, his flat felt hat, and the inevitable umbrella. 
His wife walks sedately at his side, her costume an- 
swering to the locality from which she comes, but 
usually with the quaint wing-shaped head-dress of 
broad stiff silk. 



92 THE GERMANS 

The greater bulk of the crowd, however, is 
composed of the population from the neighbor- 
ing villages, all in their best clothes. Everybody 
comes; grandparents, husband and wife, children 
of all sizes and ages, young men with their 
"Schatz," all eager to buy and get rid of their hard- 
earned savings as fast as they can. And the shop- 
keeper washes his hands in invisible soap, and 
beams. It is the Silver Sunday! In the week that 
follows the excitement scarcely abates, for the 
Karlsruher, who on Sunday yields place to the vis- 
itors, has much to do to make up for lost time. At 
last! The Golden Sunday is there! Well may the 
eager, exhausted, but always cheerful, always will- 
ing servers rush from one customer to another, try- 
ing to do each and all justice. 

They are indeed great men in their profes- 
sion, these servers! They know their people — "Sie 
kennen ihre Leute!" They do not say to him, 
"What may you wish to buy?" when the coun- 
tryman and his family march stolidly into the shop. 
They know that such a question would throw him 
into the greatest possible confusion. They pick up 
the nearest object at hand and hold it out to him as 
though it were an art treasure. "This is just the 
thing you are looking for!" they exclaim trium- 



CHRISTMAS 93 

phantly. "Just see how elegant, how beautiful, 
how useful, how cheap! It is the latest fashion. 
We have sold hundreds. I am sure it is exactly 
what you wanted." And of course it is just the 
thing he wanted, and he is most grateful that the 
fact has been pointed out to him. He goes off with 
his treasure, and the shopkeeper beams upon his 
subordinate who has thus adroitly exploded one 
more damp firework. This procedure occurs 
chiefly in the so-called "cheap shops," where you 
can buy everything in a small way that the ordinary 
human requires; but it is altogether rather char- 
acteristic of the Karlsruher salesman, who treats 
his customers as though they were only partly re- 
sponsible for their actions, and not to be too much 
humored as regards their tastes and wishes. 

At any rate, thus the eager shopping goes on, and 
as the time draws nearer a veritable emigration to 
the station adds to the bustle. Everybody who 
does not belong to Karlsruhe is en route for home. 
Officers in civilian clothes — rare sight! — and sol- 
diers in their very newest uniforms, with quaint 
little bundles and the cone-shaped cases with the 
helmet which is to cause thrills in the hearts of the 
village maidens on Sunday — such are the chief ele- 
ments in the great exodus. And at length the even- 



94 THE GERMANS 

ing arrives ! One would be inclined to think, judg- 
ing by a last glance at the streets, that every one had 
left their shopping to the last moment. The bustle, 
if anything, has increased, although the hour of the 
"Besherung" (present-giving) is almost at hand. 
And indeed it is surprising what a lot of little odds 
and ends crop up which have hitherto been over- 
looked. Perhaps the star at the top of the tree has 
broken and a new one has to be bought in all 
haste, or the candles have run out or the tinsel has 
proved too tarnished, thanks to its annual use. So 
some energetic soul rushes out at the last moment to 
make the necessary purchases. I need hardly men- 
tion that all over Germany, Christmas Eve, and not 
Christmas Day, is the great time. Christmas 
Day is more or less a church festivity, and, ex- 
cept that the present-giving is over, is quite 
English. 

For my part I like the evening ceremony the 
best. In the early morning you feel cold and sleepy 
— "nuchtern," as the Germans would say — and you 
have scarcely time to enjoy yourself before the hour 
of church is at hand, and the "Stimmung" is ab- 
ruptly broken, or at any rate turned in another di- 
rection. But on Christmas Eve the good spirits 
may mount from degree to degree without check or 



CHRISTMAS 95 

hindrance. The early morning indifference melts ; 
by the afternoon you have begun to remark that 
you are just "in the mood" for Christmas ; by six 
o'clock the sight of the gay shops and the bright 
faces has warmed you to a glow of excitement in 
which there is mingled a soft-hearted, and, alas! all 
too ephemeral tenderness toward your fellow-crea- 
tures. Seven o'clock marks the high tide. Let me 
suppose that you are one of the mysterious workers 
who for days past have been rushing to the door to 
intercept letters and parcels, and hold back in- 
quisitive and hopeful people who are desperately 
anxious to know if the yellow "Gepackwagen" has 
not brought them something. Your post has 
proved no sinecure. Apart from the difficulty of 
trying to answer questions without telling the truth, 
and without telling a lie, there is some genuinely 
hard work connected with the preparations. Imag- 
ine a magnificent green fir-tree some ten or eleven 
feet high, with branches numerous and broad in 
proportion, and imagine that it must be decked 
from head to foot with every conceivable ornament, 
with candles, tinsel, wax angels, glistening balls, 
glass icicles, and frost-covered acorns. Everybody, 
of course, has his own ideas of decoration, but the 
general rule is the brighter and gayer the better. 



96 THE GERMANS 

What a work it is ! Even when the hero of the 
evening is crowned with the triumphant golden 
star, there is still much to be done. The presents 
have to be arranged — rarely on the tree itself, for 
in our magnificent days the fir-tree's sturdy arms 
would not be strong enough to support the burden 
— but on tables, each member of the family having 
his own. All through the day the room in which 
the great ceremony is to take place is rigorously 
shut off; but at seven o'clock the folding doors are 
thrown open, and an eager, impatient crowd of old 
and young swarm through with many "oh's" and 
"ah's" of admiration. And indeed our green friend 
is a magnificent sight. All the lights have been 
turned out, and only the candles affixed to the 
broad branches have been left to throw their cheery 
reflections on the faces which cluster round. One 
of the twigs has caught fire, and there is a deli- 
cious indescribable "Tannenduft," which, if you 
shut your eyes, transports you far away into the 
heart of the great forest, and further still — back 
to all the Christmases you have hidden in your 
memory. 

But there is no time now for fancies or recol- 
lections. The reality and the presents are all-pow- 
erful, and you must take your part in the general 



CHRISTMAS 97 

uproar. Everybody is delighted, everybody — in 
true German fashion — declares that it is the finest 
tree they have ever seen, that it has been decorated 
as no tree was ever decorated before, and you, the 
worker, stand proudly by, an object of gratitude 
and profound admiration. Only a short moment is 
given to the proud fir-tree. Already eager eyes are 
wandering around the room in search of the table, 
longing for the moment when all mysteries shall be 
swept away. But in Germany you must be patient 
— or rather you must allow yourself to be worked 
up to the highest pitch of excitement by endless 
procrastinations and delays. No one must touch or 
even study his table until the time-honored carols 
have been sung. So the musical member of the 
family is hurried to the piano, and the rest crowd 
round and join lustily in the favorite, "Oh, Tannen- 
baum, oh, Tannenbaum, wie griin sind deine Blat- 
ter!" or, "Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht," until 
human nature can bear no more. Then the signal 
is given — a general sigh of relief, a general rush! 
The rest I need not describe to you. In the confu- 
sion of flying paper, bursting strings, exclamations, 
congratulations, and thanks, there is nothing very 
national — except perhaps in the last item, which is, 
of course, Teutonically exuberant. 



98 THE GERMANS 

So an hour passes, and then dinner is announced 
amidst sounds of satisfaction, for unless you are one 
of the impatient spirits who has not been able to 
resist the temptings of the edible gifts, you have 
an excellent appetite. The meal is not a very big 
one, however, most people preferring to keep the 
great feast for the following day, and perhaps it 
is just as well, for I doubt if the Stimmung would 
stand the strain of a genuine Christmas dinner — I 
am convinced that it would get decidedly sleepy. 
As it is, everybody remains in the best of spirits, and 
after the usual toasts have been given the confusion 
in the fir-tree's Throne-Room is cleared away and 
games are played. If there are children, so much 
the better. If not, the old people become children 
for the occasion. Nothing is too young or too fool- 
ish, and I am not sure if the old children are not the 
most foolish of all. 

In the midst of all this uproar the door is 
opened mysteriously, just wide enough to admit 
a huge parcel, which falls like a bomb in the more 
or less surprised assembly. The unseen anarchist 
closes the door, the packet is seized upon, and the 
name of the addressee read aloud. The receiver 
opens his parcel disgustedly, for he is German, and 
knows what awaits him. The first layer of paper 



CHRISTMAS 99 

reveals a second address, and thus the parcel passes 
from hand to hand, growing smaller with each 
change, so that at the end nothing remains but a tiny 
little box, which at last reaches the right owner. 
Let him beware! Let him remember his sins, his 
weaknesses, his dearest little peccadillo, and be pre- 
pared to find them laid bare before the world in 
doggerel rhyme, accompanied by some appropriate 
"present." Has the Backfisch with the two mag- 
nificent braids and the red cheeks been coquetting 
with the young ensign from the Grenadiers? Her 
gift may be a tin soldier wrapped in a high-flown 
poem such as Backfisch love. Has the poor Eng- 
lish innocent been guilty of some frightful, humil- 
iating error in the German tongue? Be sure that 
it has been treasured up throughout the year for 
this occasion, and that the wit of the family has ex- 
erted his powers to the uttermost to bring it home 
to the victim. Such is the Jul-Klap, one of the old- 
est German customs dating far back into the hea- 
then days, when it had no doubt some other and 
long-forgotten meaning. 

This ceremony over, the games are resumed, un- 
til the family, exhausted but extremely happy, 
gathers up its treasures and retires to bed, leaving 
the patron fir-tree, whose candles have long since 



ioo THE GERMANS 

sputtered out, to silence and darkness. Such, then, 
is Christmas Eve, so it is in modified or glorified 
degree in every home in Germany, from the Emper- 
or's palace to the peasant's hut. Pay a visit to the 
market-place a few days before Christmas, and you 
will see that it is not only the well-to-do who stand 
in anxious discussion before the forest of fir-trees 
which await purchasers. There is, for instance, 
that poor old woman, thinly clothed, with a shawl 
over her gray hair, bearing off a tiny shrub with 
such pride and love that one would think she had 
won the King of the Black Forest. Probably she 
will not have enough to eat on Christmas Eve, un- 
less some kind soul takes pity on her, but at least she 
has her tree, and when the great hour arrives she 
will light the two pale candles and stand before the 
glory of it all with the glad knowledge that even 
she is not shut out from the universal rejoicings. 

Or, if you will, take a walk through the streets 
before your own festivities begin and look into the 
lighted windows. Everywhere you will see the 
same picture. Everywhere, in garret and in palace, 
the world is paying homage to the green king of 
Christmas time. It is not, as it is growing to be 
with us, an essentially children's festival, though I 
wish every English child at least one German 



CHRISTMAS 101 

Christmas, if only for the sake of the unrivaled 
toys; it is Everybody's Festival, as it was surely 
meant to be, and it does not matter how old or how 
poor or how lonely you are — you must take part. 

But it is difficult to be old at such a time, and still 
more difficult to be lonely. If you have no family 
of your own, some other family is sure to hold out 
welcoming arms, unless, of course, you are a second 
Scrooge. On the whole, however, guests are very 
seldom seen in the circle, because no German 
would dream of willingly absenting himself from 
his own hearth. It is the one fixed time in the year 
when, whether from far or near, the various mem- 
bers of the family assemble together under the pa- 
ternal roof, and he who stays away is accounted 
heartless and indifferent. Thus, unless your own 
family is in itself large, you must be prepared to 
spend your festivity in a small circle, for guests are 
decidedly rare. Perhaps a stray officer, left in com- 
mand over the holidays, or some homeless exile 
whose people are far away over the seas, will come 
and assist your merriment, but one can not count on 
them. 

It once happened that my German friend and 
I were left solitary through unforeseen circum- 
stances, but we did not let that spoil our Christmas. 



ioz THE GERMANS 

Quite the contrary. We took the greatest pains 
with our ten-foot tree, prepared each other's tables, 
and sang carols (with rather curious accompani- 
ments, for, alas! we are neither piano virtuosi), and 
to reward our efforts the Christmas Stimmung did 
not in the least fail us. I am afraid that, had I been 
left to myself, I should have been content to leave 
my Christmas to the cook, and let the rest of the 
ceremonial go as "not worth while," but the Ger- 
man spirit was unconquerable, and not a detail was 
neglected. 

As to Christmas Day there is not much to be said. 
At nine-thirty one goes to church for the service 
which begins at ten, and one can be thankful to find 
breathing room. For the Germans — even if they 
have not been in church the whole year — always 
put in an appearance at Christmas and Easter, with 
the result that unless one goes early it is impossible 
to find a place. After church comes the great din- 
ner — sometimes enlivened with an English plum- 
pudding — to which guests are invited, and which, 
if it is thoroughly German, will last hours. As I 
have remarked before, it is not that so much is 
eaten, but the Teuton has the failing of never know- 
ing when to bring a social gathering to an end. 
When he once starts enjoying himself he goes on 




A famous tavern adjoining a church 



CHRISTMAS 103 

until he drops with exhaustion. Thus we can leave 
Christmas Day at this point, knowing that the din- 
ner is the chief event, which will last so long that 
everybody is incapacitated and incapable of any 
further effort. 

On the second Christmas day, as it is called, peo- 
ple flock in their best clothes to the Hoftheater, 
where a "Festopera" is being given — usually 
"Lohengrin" or the "Meistersingers." The week 
that follows depends greatly on the weather and on 
individual tastes. Crowds pour up into the Black 
Forest, where, if it is a genuine Christmas, the snow 
is already thick and firm. Skiing, bob-sleighing, 
skating, is then the order of the day, until the all- 
too-short holidays are at an end. I am convinced 
the English school-boy would be speechless with 
indignation over these holidays ! A fortnight is the 
extreme limit, and given only to boarding-schools 
whose inmates have long distances to go to reach 
their homes. The other educational institutions 
have rarely more than ten days, and sometimes less. 
From the twenty-third of December to the second 
of January is the usual thing. Hence by Sylvester 
Abend — New Year's Eve — the joys of freedom are 
nearly over, and there is a last grand festivity which 
serves the double purpose of welcoming the New., 



104 THE GERMANS 

Year and adding a crowning, if farewell, touch to 
the great ten days. 

As in France, the New Year is a far more im- 
portant time than it is with us. True, no presents 
are given then, except to the tradespeople, who re- 
ceive their "New Year boxes," but cards are far 
more numerous than at Christmas, and as guests can 
be invited, it is possible to organize the festivity on 
bigger lines. Thus dances or dinner-parties help 
to wile away the hours to midnight. As the magic 
hour approaches, the Christmas tree, which still 
reigns in the drawing-room, is lighted for the last 
time, and the "Bleigieszen" is begun. This cere- 
mony consists of boiling specially prepared pieces 
of lead in a spoon over a candle; each guest takes 
his spoonful and throws it quickly into the basin of 
water, which is held ready. According to the form 
which the lead takes, so will his fortune be in the 
coming year. Sometimes the shapes are absolutely 
"impossible," though there is always some hopeful 
spirit in the company who professes to see a resem- 
blance to some object or another. At any rate, the 
smallest resemblance is sufficient, and ships (which 
indicate a journey), or hearts (which have, of 
course, only one meaning), or some other equally 
significant shape is usually discerned. In the mid- 



CHRISTMAS 105 

die of this fortune-telling the clock strikes, a gen- 
eral cry of "Prosit Neu Jahr !" a general shaking of 
hands, and, if it can be afforded, champagne flows 
— in moderate quantities. Outside on the streets 
the cry of "Prosit Neu Jahr!" is echoed from cor- 
ner to corner, one hears the crack of forbidden fire- 
works and the clash of bells. Sylvester Abend is at 
an end, and if one is sober-minded and eager to be- 
gin the New Year in the right spirit, one goes to 
bed — if not, well, one dances till the early hours 
are past, with the motto — 

"Drink and be merry, for to-morrow we — work!" 

Thus the fir-tree's reign is over; it is packed 
ignominiously in the garret or planted in the gar- 
den, and forgotten until it is too wretched an object 
to be tolerated longer. What does it matter? Next 
year there will be another and perhaps a finer one 
— at least we are sure to think it finer — and with it 
will come another happy German Christmas. For 
the German Christmas is really happy — there is no 
make-believe about it. It is the reality- of what we 
call a "good old English Christmas" — a fable of 
times long past or never existent, whose only me- 
mento is to be found on the Christmas cards with 
their holly and mistletoe, and coaches driving 



106 THE GERMANS 

through the snow, and brimming bumpers. I fear 
we are losing the Spirit of Christmas — Dickens' 
legacy. Perhaps we have frightened it away with 
our fine culture and superabundance of wealth and 
luxury — but it is not dead. It has taken up its 
home in the simple German hearts, whose warmth 
and sincerity have kept it alive, and will keep it 
alive, until the sad time comes when they too will 
forget to be simple. 



CHAPTER VII 

THE STUDENTS AND THE EMPEROR'S BIRTHDAY 

IT seems to me, on reviewing my German year, that 
the winter season is the one most full of events. 
Scene after scene crowds before my mind's eye, 
and no sooner is Christmas relegated to the past 
than the Emperor's Birthday, with its festivities, 
civil and military, arrives to break the monotony of 
peaceful days. There is no town or village, even 
here in South Germany, where the Imperial spirit 
is less deeply rooted, which does not celebrate the 
occasion with flags and bunting and festive clothes, 
and, above all, festive meals. The bourgeois ele- 
ment in the larger towns enjoys ponderous banquets 
and delivers ponderous if patriotic speeches; the 
military parades in gala uniform, dances at the 
Kaiser Ball, and is generally very much en evi- 
dence; the Court attends the opera, where three 
cheers are called for His Imperial Majesty; and 
the students, here as everywhere, and as in every- 
thing, go about their celebrations in their own pe- 
culiar way. 

107 



108 THE GERMANS 

And really to understand their "way" — in fact, 
to understand them at all — one must not be satis- 
fied with the superficial consideration which most 
foreigners bestow upon them. One must not be sat- 
isfied with a mere glance at the outside of things, 
or allow one's judgment to be swayed by the unre- 
liable literary efforts of the traveler who has nei- 
ther taken the time nor trouble to enter into the 
spirit of an institution which he does not hesitate 
to criticize and condemn. Let us, therefore, sweep 
out of our minds the picture of the German student 
which English people usually accept as genuine. 
The fat, ungainly, lazy, stupid beer-drinker no 
doubt exists, but he is no more typical than, I hope, 
were the drunken soldiers whom I had the humilia- 
tion of observing as they reeled over a certain Eng- 
lish station. The typical German Corps student is 
in the first place a gentleman; he lives and acts as 
such, and though theoretically free, he is bound by 
self-made laws which are severer than any of those 
governing our own universities. I emphasize 
Corps student, because there are all sorts and con- 
ditions of students, and the difference in class can 
be as great as that between an engine-driver and a 
count's son. This is especially the case in a town 
like Karlsruhe, where there is a Polytechnicum or 




Court of Heidelberg Castle 



THE EMPEROR'S BIRTHDAY 109 

Hochschule for the study of practical sciences. In 
a university, as in Heidelberg, the differences are 
not so marked, though the elements are often very 
questionable, as is inevitable where the expenses 
are so low and social position of so little account. 
Practically any one can be a student, but not every 
one can be a Corps student. 

There is a legend that once upon a time four Ger- 
mans were wrecked together on a desert island. 
The first thing they did before even attempting to 
dry themselves was to form a "Verein" (a society 
or union). After a few days they quarreled, the 
Verein split up into two Vereins, which, so the 
legend goes, are quarreling with each other to this 
day. The story is very characteristic, and explains 
the whole student system, which is founded on the 
German's love of fighting, his sociability, and his 
intense dislike for independence in so far that it 
entails loneliness. Every German, rich or poor, 
belongs to a Verein. If he is musical he belongs to 
a Gesangsverein ; if he is a soldier he is a member 
of the Kriegsverein ; if a sportsman to Schutzen- 
verein; and so on ad nauseam. The student is the 
example for the rule. He can not live alone. He 
found the fact out generations ago when the Corps 
were first founded. This took place at the begin- 



no THE GERMANS 

ning of the seventeenth century, when the students 
at the universities divided themselves according 
to their various nationalities into what was then 
called "Landmannshaften," wearing, after they 
had been officially recognized, distinguishing caps 
and colors. From these Landmannshaften have 
arisen the Corps, which fundamentally are the 
same, though the members are no longer recruited 
from the same state. Thus the Corps Bavaria may 
be composed entirely of North Germans, and here 
and there an entire foreigner is admitted into the 
circle. But the original laws exist almost un- 
changed, and they enclose the student in a self-gov- 
erning world of his own. 

It must not be imagined that a Corps is a kind 
of school-boy clique. The Corps are under a reg- 
ular government — the University Corps under 
what is called the Kosener Senioren Convent, the 
Polytechnicum Corps under the Weinheimer Sen- 
ioren Convent. No new; Corps can be founded 
without the consent of these Convents, no law 
changed or inaugurated, and in the event of the 
death, marriage or expulsion of a member they 
must immediately be informed. Thus the happy 
being who believes that this student's world is a 
place of liberty and license, is as much deceived as 



THE EMPEROR'S BIRTHDAY in 

the student himself when he triumphantly sings, 
"Frei ist der Bursch!" The government of the 
Corps is indeed so absolute, the laws so rigid and 
numerous, the punishment of offenses so severe, 
that it is to be wondered at that young men who 
have just thrown off school discipline should will- 
ingly accept the new and often heavier yoke. 

This severe discipline, together with the consid- 
erable expenses connected with the Corps life, is the 
reason the Corps are gradually diminishing, and 
the mass of the Wilden (the name given to the stu- 
dents who belong to neither Corps nor Burschens- 
haften) increasing. Still, even to-day, a father, if 
his purse allows it, will always endeavor to get his 
son received into a good Corps. He knows very 
well that the advantages outweigh the disadvan- 
tages of wasted time and money. In the first place, 
he has the assurance that his son can only mix with 
young fellows of his own position (a Corps is as 
particular as to the "Circles" in which its members 
associate as a careful mother with her daughters) ; 
he will be watched over by men older than himself, 
and kept from gambling and every other form of 
vice; he will be taught self-control, and in after- 
life he will have the support not only of those 
whom he knew as students but of all the older mem- 



ii2 THE GERMANS 

bers of his Corps ( u alte Herrn"), usually men of 
considerable wealth and position. Thus, for in- 
stance, a young architect or engineer, who, through 
no fault of his own, falls on evil days, need only 
apply to an old Corps student who is at the head of 
some big business to be sure of getting an excellent 
berth, with the prospect of a rapid advancement. 

All these advantages are very real, and are fully 
worth the sacrifices of time, money, and inde- 
pendence which must be brought. The money is, 
without doubt, a serious item. To exist comfort- 
ably in a good Corps a student must have an allow- 
ance of at least £250 a year, and if possible more, 
and this sum is all the heavier because during the 
time that he is an active member work plays only 
a small part in his program. Not that he leads an 
idle life, but the Corps makes so many demands 
upon his energies that only the most industrious can 
attend lectures or study privately. But the time is 
after all a short one. At the end of his fourth term 
the Corps student usually retires into private life 
as "inactive," and only appears at great ceremonies 
— very often he goes to another university to avoid 
the temptations of the old life. At any rate he be- 
comes a worker, and in a sense which would make 
most English young men open their eyes. 



THE EMPEROR'S BIRTHDAY 113 

Considering how hard the German school-boy 
works, and how hard the men must work in after 
life, the student can not be grudged the short 
respite in which to enjoy his youth. And he does 
enjoy it — not in excesses as the heavy allowance 
would suggest. The £25o-£300 is spent for a great 
part in assisting to bear the expenses of the Corps, 
whose members are often so limited in number that 
the share of the burden can be very serious. Most 
good Corps have their own houses, some even their 
own motors and carriages. The houses are some- 
times extremely fine buildings, built by subscrip- 
tion, in which the "alte Herrn" take a lion's share. 
From the outside they look like the private resi- 
dences of the wealthy, but inside they are arranged 
to meet the special requirements of the Corps life. 
The furniture and fittings are handsome and 
tasteful. 

The entrance-hall — I am, of course, merely 
taking an example — is lined with dark oak, the 
walls covered with emblems and trophies from 
every part of the world; dueling sabers and the 
flags of the Corps and of its sister-Corps form the 
chief ornaments, which are never tawdry. There is 
a large "Kneipzimmer" (the room where the 
Kneipen or meetings are held) , a library which a 



ii 4 THE GERMANS 

professor might envy, a casino for quiet evenings, 
and one or two odd rooms useful at festive times. 
In very few cases do the students make use of their 
houses as actual places of residence. Each has his 
private lodging, though they usually dine together 
at a specified restaurant. Only the most exclusive 
— and the practice is not looked upon with ap- 
proval — keep their own cook and actually live in 
the Corps house. As a rule, the all-important 
Corpsdiener (servant) and his wife are left in 
charge, and see that everything is kept in perfect 
order. 

Besides the expense of keeping up this establish- 
ment, there comes the carriages, excursions, tailors' 
bills, and above all the invitations which the Corps 
issues in the course of the year. This latter point is 
individual, but a well-represented Corps will us- 
ually give two or three balls during the year, be- 
sides small dances, Damen-Kneipen, etc. The balls 
are the great events of their social life, and perhaps 
it would be of some interest to describe one to 
which I was invited shortly before Christmas. 

The invitation was for eight o'clock, but, as in all 
university matters, this includes an extra quarter of 
an hour, so that the guests are expected to arrive 
at a quarter past eight. The three Chargierten 



THE EMPEROR'S BIRTHDAY 114 

(the heads of the Corps) received us in the entrance 
hall, glorious in immaculate evening dress, Corps 
ribbons, worn across the shirt-front, and the curious 
little Cerevis caps, which remind me of the forage 
caps which some of our soldiers still wear, save that 
they are delicate works of art in blue silk and silver 
embroidery. Behind the Chargierten stands a 
crowd of beaming Fiichse. I must hasten to ex- 
plain at this point that the Fiichse are not wild ani- 
mals, as their name might suggest. The Corps is 
divided into two groups, the Burschen, or older 
students, who have won their privileges by a cer- 
tain number of well-fought Mensur, and the 
Fiichse, who are the new members, not yet having 
won their spurs, and bound by absolute obedience 
to their elders. Each Fiichse has what is called a 
Lieb-Bursche — a sort of Mentor and particular 
friend — whom he is allowed to choose out himself. 
Some popular students have so many Leib-Fuchse 
to watch over that I should think they must find 
their nursemaid duties distinctly irksome. 

But let me return to the subject in hand. Having 
paid the Chargierten all the compliments which we 
could think of over the Christmas decorations, we 
were conducted up-stairs to an improvised cloak- 
room. The efforts which had been made to achieve 



n6 THE GERMANS 

a "feminine" atmosphere were really pathetic. 
With the assistance and advice of the Corpsdiener's 
wife, our hosts had gathered togetker the most won- 
derful assortment of hair-pins, safety-pins, ordinary 
pins, needles, cottons, and hand-glasses I have ever 
seen. A haberdasher could have set up business on 
the stock; and, reassured by this provision for all 
possible accidents, we returned down-stairs. The 
Corps was unusually strong — twenty students in all, 
and as other masculine guests had been invited, the 
rooms were by this time comfortably full. We were 
immediately conducted by our respective "Tisch- 
herrn" to the supper-table in the Kneipzimmer. 

The three Chargierten sat at the cross-table with 
the three most important chaperones, the others 
had their places assigned to them. Flowers were 
strewn everywhere, the string band played its hard- 
est and loudest in the neighboring room, and the 
supper began. There were three courses — rather 
slowly served by the unaccustomed Corpsdiener 
and his specially engaged satellites — so that, what 
with the speeches of welcome and other delays, it 
was past ten o'clock before we rose. We were then 
led up-stairs and shown the glories of the library 
and casino, the horrors of the long dueling pistols 
and sabers. While the long tables were being 



THE EMPEROR'S BIRTHDAY 117 

cleared away down-stairs coffee was handed round, 
and three students sat down and played a Beetho- 
ven trio for violin, 'cello and piano! All three 
played excellently, and the others listened with 
critical interest. For any one with preconceived 
ideas of student rowdyism the sight of the solemn 
group must have been somewhat disconcerting. 

After this performance, which was warmly ap- 
plauded, we proceeded down-stairs again, and the 
dancing began. Of course the masculine element 
was vastly in the majority, so that there was not a 
moment's rest. And the chaperones danced too — 
some of them! The more sober sat in the adjoin- 
ing room, and were courteously entertained by the 
partnerless remainder. At about twelve o'clock a 
great sensation was caused by the arrival of Father 
Christmas — or an individual dressed up very like 
him — with a great bundle over his back. After the 
recital of a self-composed poem he distributed lit- 
tle bouquets of flowers to the masculine guests, and 
ribbons, with more or less witty mottoes, to the la- 
dies. The music once more struck up, the bouquets 
were offered in exchange for a waltz, until each 
lady present was well supplied. Afterward came 
the Damenwahl, in which the feminine element as- 
serted its independence, chose out the best dancers, 



u8 THE GERMANS 

and rewarded them with the much-coveted ribbons. 
This cotillon marked the high-tide of the evening, 
and being wise people we did not wait for the ebb. 
We departed, therefore, carrying with us the mem- 
ory of a charming evening spent with hosts whose 
courtesy, kindliness, and savoir-faire might well be 
set up as example for older people of genuine hos- 
pitality. When I read of the coarse, mannerless 
German student, I have only to recall the picture of 
those tall, well-built young men with their fresh- 
colored faces — marred, it is true, with the Mensur 
scar — and their simple, unfailing courtesy, to be 
thoroughly amused. 

In the summer this same Corps hires its own 
tennis-court, and invites those who danced with 
them in the winter. Picnic parties are arranged, at 
which the students still play the part of amiable 
hosts. As a return the various families invite the 
Corps to small house-dances, and as guests the stu- 
dents are as agreeable as hosts. They still seem to 
think it is their business to entertain, and the ag- 
onies of sitting next a partner who answers in sulky 
monosyllables and wont dance are unknown. 
Equally unknown is all loudness or roughness. 

The ribbon which the Corps student wears is a 
guarantee that he is a gentleman, and that he will 



THE EMPEROR'S BIRTHDAY 119 

behave as such. The Corps makes itself responsi- 
ble for his conduct. Hence it is very careful as to 
whom it receives into its circle. The "Keilen" — 
that is to say, the recruiting of all sorts of students 
at all odd places and times — is only the methods of 
the lower and sometimes very inferior Burschen- 
schaften or Verbindungen. The Corps only accept 
members who are recommended to them by "alte 
Herrn," and whose family and financial standing 
is unexceptionable, and it is as easy to "fly out" as 
it is difficult to get in. A single act of dishonor 
(lying or cheating), bad debts, or a sign of cow- 
ardice, and a student is at once deprived of his 
Corps ribbon and cast out into everlasting disgrace. 
It is a hard punishment. To fight unfairly, or to 
shrink back a step from an opponent's sword, is an 
offense past pardon, and accordingly the sinner is 
branded for life. Every Corps in Germany is given 
notice of his disgrace, and his own circle treats him 
as an outcast. An "ausgestossener Corps-student" 
is in the same position as an officer who has been 
dismissed from the army with "schlichtem Ab- 
schied," and he can either disappear into the 
depths, go to America, or put a bullet through his 
brains — in his own circle he has made himself "im- 
possible." 



120 THE GERMANS 

Thus the Corps student's life is not all roses. He 
is constantly under the eye of a stern discipline. 
However long the Kneipen (meetings) last, he 
must neither show weariness nor exhaustion; how- 
ever late he is up at night, at ten o'clock the next 
morning he must be at the Portal before the univer- 
sity in cap and colors; if he uses language or re- 
lates anecdotes which might not be repeated in a 
drawing-room he is heavily fined; if he upsets any- 
thing at table he is fined; if he breaks a glass he 
must supply the Corps with a dozen new ones; un- 
der no circumstances may he quarrel with or irri- 
tate a Corpsbruder; and so on into every detail of 
his life. 

As to the tremendous beer-drinking of which 
one hears so much, I have come to the conclusion 
that the whole custom is tremendously exag- 
gerated — chiefly by the student himself. He 
takes a curious sort of pride in boasting about his 
prowess at the Kneipen; and in truth, if you count 
the glasses which he appears to consume at a sitting, 
it seems appalling. But — and this is the point — he 
rarely if ever drinks more than half of what is set 
before him. Two minutes after his glass has been 
given him by the Corpsdiener it is whisked away 
again and a fresh one brought, so that it can be 



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Corps students drinking out of doors Sunday afternoon 



THE EMPEROR'S BIRTHDAY 121 

calculated with fair correctness that half of the 
beer is really consumed and half of it wasted. 
Moreover, it must be remembered that German 
beer is extremely light, and he must indeed have a 
weak head who can not stand the necessary quanti- 
ties. For a certain quantity must be drunk. If one 
Corps student drinks to another the latter must 
drink in return, and as this formality is undergone 
at short intervals throughout a long sitting, the mat- 
ter can become trying in the extreme. It is in fact 
considered a joke to drink constantly to a poor un- 
hardened young Fuchs, till the unfortunate youth is 
only kept upright by the stern eye of the Char- 
gierten. 

It is a curious custom, this drinking, and 
though it is undoubtedly foolish, it is none the less 
a discipline of sorts. It requires rigid self-control, 
for, though the student may drink till heaven and 
earth are interchangeable, he may not show that he 
is drunk. But the latter stage is very rarely 
reached, and the whole drinking system is being 
modified from year to year. The dueling, as we 
call it, remains, however, as an unalterable institu- 
tion. No student can belong to a Corps unless he is 
prepared to fight, and no student can win the cov- 
eted three-colored ribbon of the Bursche until he 



122 THE GERMANS 

has fought successfully at least three times. Here I 
must explain what the student means by "success- 
fully." He does not mean that he has disabled his 
opponent and himself come off without damage — 
quite the contrary. He means that he has had a bad 
slash, and has borne it, both at the moment and in 
the still more painful afterwards, without flinching. 
Hence a brilliant fighter may fight three times and 
still remain a Fuchs. So long as he has not given 
visible proof of his courage and endurance, so long 
must he be content to occupy an inferior position 
among his brothers. His actual skill counts for 
comparatively nothing. This is the explanation for 
the pride which a student takes in his sometimes 
very grisly wounds. He sees in them, and he knows 
that others see in them, not the sign that he is a poor 
fighter, but that he has borne himself with honor. 

The Mensur, as this form of fighting is called, is 
not a duel. It is conducted without animosity be- 
tween students of different Corps. (The Corps do 
not fight with the Burschenschaften.) The third 
Chargierter of the contending Corps choose out 
their representatives in perfect friendliness, and 
match them according to their size and experience. 
No Fuchs is allowed to fight until he has been 
taught, and accordingly every university has its 



THE EMPEROR'S BIRTHDAY 123 

Pauklehrer (teacher), who instructs the younger 
student to wield the sabers, and also to bear him- 
self properly. Every morning the beginners must 
practise for a couple of hours on the Paukboden, 
as it is called, protected by masks and pads, and 
only when he has reached a certain degree of pro- 
ficiency is he allowed to take his part in the "real 
thing." 

At the risk of placing myself in the position of 
a constant apologist for German customs, I feel that 
in justice I must make some effort to defend the 
practice which excites so much disgust and won- 
der among my own compatriots. The "real thing" 
is scarcely more violent, and perhaps less brutal, 
than a hard-fought game of Rugby foot-ball, 
and it requires infinitely more nerve and courage. 
It is true that the vital part of the student's body is 
padded and his eyes protected, but the whole of his 
face and head are exposed to the full force of his 
opponent's weapon. And the force is sometimes 
tremendous. There is no delicate French fencing. 
The "Schlager" (straight sword without point) is 
wielded above the head with an energy and rapid- 
ity which is bewildering, and neither of the op- 
ponents may flinch or jerk his head, or move back 
from his position. The two seconds on either side, 



124 THE GERMANS 

armed with sabers, watch eagle-eyed for the slight- 
est infringement of the law, and woe to him who 
involuntarily shifts his position! If he is a young 
Fuchs he may be let off once with a few weeks' Ver- 
bannung, but if the practice continues he has 
proved himself unworthy of the Corps, and must 

go- 

The Verbannung, I must explain, is the hardest 
punishment which can be inflicted, short of ac- 
tual expulsion. It is a kind of "Coventry" into 
which a sinner may be sent for a few days or a few 
weeks according to the nature of his offense, and 
during that time he may neither speak to his com- 
rades nor wear the colors. He generally consoles 
himself with his much-neglected work. 

To return to the Mensur. Each "partie" lasts 
until one of the opponents has been "ausgestochen," 
that is to say, sufficiently badly cut to warrant the 
interference of the Paukarzt, who is always there. 
The victim is marched off in the highest spirits to 
the adjoining room, where his wounds are imme- 
diately stitched, and not in the most gentle fashion, 
either. While he is being sewed up — sometimes the 
gashes require as many as sixteen stitches — his 
friends stand round, photograph him from the 
damaged side, and keep up a cheerful fire of com- 



THE EMPEROR'S BIRTHDAY 125 

merits, which the object must accept with unfail- 
ing good-humor. No matter how painful the op- 
eration may be, he must not flinch, and though they 
deny it with an easy shrug of the shoulders, it must 
often be a trying ordeal. After a Mensur a student 
belonging to a good Corps does not go into society 
until his wounds are presentable; he consoles him- 
self by wandering about the streets with a black 
skull-cap and a bandaged face, though even this is 
sometimes forbidden. 

I have already mentioned that the Corps do not 
fight with the Burschenshaften, and now comes the 
reason, which is quite German, a direct extension 
of the "Kastengeist" into a smaller sphere. The 
Corps consider themselves altogether above the 
Burschenshaften, and the feeling between the two 
parties is sometimes painfully strained. On the 
whole it must be admitted that the Corps are not 
far wrong in their self-estimation. There are, as a 
rule, only five corps in a university, whose total 
numbers rarely amount to a hundred. These are 
the "elect" — young men of noble birth, as in the 
Borussia Corps in Bonn, or at any rate of good 
family. The Burschenschaften, with one or two 
respectable exceptions, are made up of all the ele- 
ments which present themselves. Hence, though 



126 THE GERMANS 

they have much the same laws as the Corps students, 
the tone among them is exactly that which one 
would expect to find in a very mixed society. They 
show themselves far more than the Corps students, 
and the stranger who sees a badly-dressed, unpleas- 
ant-looking youth swaggering about in a colored 
cap goes home with a sad tale of the Corps student, 
whom he has probably not seen at all. 

Besides the Burschenshaften there are the Wil- 
den — students who belong to no Verbindung, and 
take no part in the fighting. On the whole they are 
looked upon with dislike and suspicion by the au- 
thorities — again not altogether without reason. 
Poles, Jews, doubtful specimens of all nations, mix 
with equally doubtful Germans, and the professors, 
who have usually been Corps students themselves, 
have no love for them. Of course there is always 
the class of workers, retired Corps students, who 
are looked upon with respect, but they are not the 
Wilden, who, while professing to belong to no par- 
ticular order, form a union among themselves whose 
motto is freedom — very often license. The Wilden 
contain all the elements which afterward drift — 
if they are not already there — into the arms of red- 
hot socialism and worse. The tendency toward 
socialism is alone sufficient to debar them from all 



THE EMPEROR'S BIRTHDAY 127 

intercourse with either the Burschenschaften or the 
Corps. The latter are essentially "Reichsgesinn- 
ten," that is to say, sworn foes to socialism and 
staunch adherers to the throne. Bismarck is their 
ideal German, and his portrait, with that of the 
present emperor, hangs in the place of honor in 
every Corpshaus. 

As regards the part which the Corps student 
plays in public life, everything depends on the uni- 
versity. In large cities, such as Berlin and Munich, 
they have next to no influence, but in Heidelberg 
and Freiburg they are the ruling powers. The 
town accepts their escapades with a smiling counte- 
nance, and even the policeman treats them with a 
not very affectionate respect. Certainly the town 
has all reason to love the wearers of the colored 
caps, for without them the shops might just as well 
put up their shutters. The student is reckless with 
his "dedication presents," his carriages, his tailor's 
and smoking bills, and as the tradesman's pet trick 
is to refuse cash payment, and to send in enormous 
accounts long after the student has forgotten what 
he really did and did not buy, the poor youth— or 
rather his poor father — is miserably swindled. As 
to the policeman, he plays his role in fear and trem- 
bling. He knows that for every severity on his part 



i 2 8 THE GERMANS 

the punishment is sure and swift. Thus there was 
once a misguided sergeant who, having caught 
some young Fuchse at their favorite amusement of 
turning out the street lamps, marched them off to 
the Career (university prison), and saw to it that 
they were rewarded with a few days' confinement. 
Some weeks later the same sergeant, wandering 
through the streets at midnight, saw a sight which 
delighted his venomous heart — students crawling 
stealthily down the street bearing on their shoulders 
a suspicious looking ladder. 

"Ha!" thought the Law, "another sign-board to 
be stolen! This is a chance for glory!" and fol- 
lowed on tiptoe. His supposition proved all too 
correct. Outside a shop where a large sign-board 
announced the wares of a certain tailor a halt was 
made. After much peering round and mysterious 
whisperings, the ladder was hoisted and the theft 
committed. "Caught — red-handed!" cried the tri- 
umphant sergeant, pouncing upon his victims. 
Fearful consternation ensued. The more timid fell 
on their knees and implored him to "let them off 
this once," touching references were made to the 
broken mother-hearts and disgraced fathers; but 
the Law was obdurate, and behold the whole crest- 
fallen, lamenting crowd was marched solemnly off 



THE EMPEROR'S BIRTHDAY 129 

to the Wache. There the superintendent began his 
part. Delighted to have so many victims at one 
haul, he made the formalities as long and painful 
as he could. Long lists with names and addresses 
were made out, impertinent questions asked, and 
long speeches held, until after some two weary 
hours had passed the eldest student meekly pro- 
duced a bill. 

"But is it the law that one may not remove one's 
own property, dear Herr Polizist?" he asked with 
humble interest. 

"What the devil do you mean?" 

"You see — the sign-board happens to be ours — " 

"Yours?" 

"We bought it this morning, if you please. Here 
is the receipt." 

A veil may be drawn over the subsequent ex- 
plosion, and the war dance of triumph which was 
executed outside the Wache and all the way home, 
to the chagrin of the peacefully sleeping Heidel- 
berger citizens. Such scenes are too common, and 
I have only ventured to quote the historic prank 
because it is typical of student pranks in general. 
Sometimes they are witty and sometimes they are 
not, but on the whole they are as harmless as the 
one I have described. 



-i30 THE GERMANS 

Like every member of the better glass society, 
the Corps student is intensely exclusive. Except 
on certain fixed occasions he does not even associate 
with members of other Corps, and he only enters 
into society either with his Corps brothers or with 
their sanction. Thus it is very rare to see a student 
anywhere alone ; and if he begins to mix in a circle 
not approved of by the rest of his Corps, he is very 
quickly brought to the right-about. A student 
whom I know is a keen sportsman, but his Corps 
has forbidden him to join the hockey and tennis 
clubs in the town, firstly, because there are Wilden 
among the members, and secondly, because it takes 
up too much of his time. A Corps student, there- 
fore, must be prepared to give up everything from 
the moment he wears the colors, and to surrender 
his will entirely into the hands of the majority. 

This system no doubt tends to narrowness and 
one-sidedness, but the extreme effects are rubbed off 
as soon as the student leaves the university behind 
him, and it belongs to the German idea of dis- 
cipline, which is the leading idea in every phase of 
life. Moreover, like all German exclusiveness, it 
has its reasons and its advantages. The reason is 
not far to seek. It must be remembered that the 
Corps is responsible for the behavior of each one 



THE EMPEROR'S BIRTHDAY 131 

of its members, and that should one of them bring 
discredit on himself the whole Corps may be abol- 
ished, or at any rate suspended for any number of 
terms. Hence it behooves the Chargierten to keep 
stern watch over the younger members. And the 
advantage is, as I have already remarked, that a 
young man can not get into bad society or run wild. 
The latter dangers are greater in a German than in 
an English university, because the student is under 
no direct control, and is free to study, "bummel," 
or go to the bad very much as he likes. The Corps 
acts as a sort of expensive but reliable brake, and 
the young man who believes that he is enjoying the 
wildest freedom is really under the strictest possible 
control. He does not realize the fact, and so does 
not mind it, and in after days he looks back upon 
his Corps life as the happiest, freest time, when 
he enjoyed himself most, worked least, and made 
his best and most enduring friendships. 

All this has been a lengthy digression from the 
starting-point, but the German student-life is a 
complicated subject, which I do not pretend to 
have done more than touch on. Nevertheless, I 
trust I have explained sufficiently to introduce the 
reader into the midst of a Kaiser-Kommers — the 
student's celebration of the Emperor's birthday — 



i 3 2 THE GERMANS 

with the feeling that it will not be entirely incom- 
prehensible to him. A Kommers, it must be ex- 
plained, is a formal meeting of all the Corps, and 
sometimes of the Burschenshaften, to celebrate 
some special national event. The Kaiser-Kommers 
is the most important of these, and takes place 
some days before the 27th of January in one or 
other of the large town halls. As the Corps and 
the Burschenshaften are nearly always on bad 
terms it is very rare that the peace angels succeed in 
bringing them together, and each party usually 
holds its Kommers alone. Though the scene suf- 
fers thereby in size and color, it is on the whole 
more attractive and in every way more select. 

Ladies are invited as admirers, and are throned at 
long tables on a raised platform, from whence they 
have a wide view over the whole scene. At the far 
end of the hall each Corps has built up its emblems 
of flags, shields, and armorial bearings with the 
presiding Corps of the year in the center. Beneath 
these gay trappings is the guest-table, with the in- 
vited professors, town officials, and higher officers. 
The first Chargierter of the presiding Corps occu- 
pies the great oak-chair in the center, and com- 
mands the ceremonies. The tables of the Corps are 
arranged down the center of the hall ; each Corps 



THE EMPEROR'S BIRTHDAY 133 

has its own table, with the Chargierter at the head, 
and is supplemented by "alte Herrn" and special 
guests, who are received at the entrance and con- 
ducted to their places amidst the salutations of the 
whole assembly — a somewhat embarrassing pro- 
ceeding, by the way. The scene is a brilliant one, 
especially for the modern eye, which is accustomed 
only to drab and dreary colors in the masculine 
world. The well-set-up figures in the picturesque 
Vix — or uniform — form a picture which the 
stranger does not easily forget. Each Corps has its 
own Kneip-Jacke, a sort of short, braided military 
coat in the Corps color, in this case either pale blue 
cornflower, dark blue, green, or black — the Cerevis 
to match, white leather trousers, and high black 
boots over the knee. The Chargierter carry swords 
with sashes, with the Corps color over the shoulder, 
and the Burschenschaften — when they are present 
— wear long ostrich plumes in their caps after the 
fashion of an earlier age. Indeed, the whole scene 
seems to belong to another and more chivalrous 
century. 

Meanwhile a string band performs selections out 
of the operas until the presiding Chargierter rises, 
and, having struck the table three times with his 
drawn sword, commands "Silentium!" He then 



134 THE GERMANS 

announces that a "Salamander" is to be "rubbed" 
in honor of his Imperial Majesty. This perform- 
ance is a curious one. The whole assembly rises, 
the Chargierter commands "Eins!" Each takes his 
glass of beer and drinks it to the dregs. "Zwei!" 
The glasses are lowered. "Eins, zwei, drei!" The 
glasses are rattled sharply on the table, producing 
a sound like muffled thunder — at "drei!" they are 
brought down with a single abrupt crash. Such is 
the student's method of drinking a health — the 
famous Salamander. After this the singing begins. 
Drinking, fighting, and singing — these three occu- 
pations play a great part in the student's life, and 
the latter item by no means the least. The German 
student sings well and lustily, and his songs are 
worth singing. They are fresh, vigorous, and melo- 
dious without being trivial. The greatest German 
poets and composers have helped to enrich the 
store, and consequently it is a real pleasure to listen, 
and even to join in, as every guest is expected to do. 
During the singing the first Chargierter of 
each Corps remains standing, as also during the 
speeches which follow. The first is to the Emperor, 
held by the presiding Chargierter, after which the 
national anthem is sung, and a second Salamander 
"rubbed." Speeches for the Grand Duke, the pro- 



THE EMPEROR'S BIRTHDAY 135 

fessors, the guests, and last — but not least, and by 
far the most amusing — for the ladies, are held by 
the different Chargierten, and each is concluded by 
the complimentary Salamander, to which, fortun- 
ately, the ladies are not expected to respond. When 
one considers that the speech-holders are little 
more than boys, and that they have an audience of 
professors, generals, and sometimes of the Grand 
Duke himself, the speeches are remarkably good, 
and are always warmly patriotic. "Patriotism" is 
indeed the keynote of the whole proceedings. The 
songs and speeches breathe the same passionate at- 
tachment to Kaiser and Vaterland, and one feels 
that one is in touch with a great and vigorous na- 
tional force in embryo. In between the songs and 
speeches the ladies are visited and presented with 
flowers from the Corps by which they are invited, 
and then at twelve o'clock the ceremony begins 
which is to mark the close of the official part of the 
evening. 

This is the "Landesvater." During the sing- 
ing of a certain song, to which the name "Landes- 
vater" is given, the two youngest students of 
each Corps, at opposite sides of the table, drink 
to each other standing; a Chargierter takes up his 
place behind each on the empty chair, and gives 



136 THE GERMANS 

his charge his Schlager or sword. These are first 
clashed together in time to the music and then 
crossed, while between the points the Chargierter 
on the one side gives his hand to the student on the 
other. At the end of the last verse — "Halten will 
ich stets auf Ehre" — each student takes his cap and 
pierces it onto his sword. The two particular verses 
are then begun again, and the Chargierten move on 
to the next couple, until all the caps of the Corps 
are collected on to the sword. Those who have per- 
formed their part of the ceremony link arms, so 
that at the end the whole Corps is thus joined 
together round the table. This ends the official 
part of the evening. Afterward, when the guests 
have gone, the end of the song is sung, and the caps 
returned to their respective owners. All forms and 
ceremonies are then over; the Corps mingle to- 
gether, and singing, drinking, and smoking occupy 
the hours until — no one knows when except per- 
haps the milkman! 

I have ventured to give the Landesvater with a 
very rough translation, because, in the original at 
least, it expresses the German spirit, German pa- 
triotism, and the German love of symbolism. The 
melody is simple and impressive, as indeed is the 
whole ceremony, unlikely though it may sound. It 



THE EMPEROR'S BIRTHDAY 137 

may not appeal to our English taste, any more than 
the student-life itself, but not on that account have 
we the right to ignore what is undoubtedly the 
source, the very root of all. "For Emperor, Father- 
land and honor!" is the rallying cry of the German 
student, and it is the guiding principle which he 
carries with him into his after-life. No doubt he is 
very young, very foolish, very tenacious of his an- 
cient, antiquated customs, but he has retained the 
high purpose of which the customs are but the 
rough expression, and has brightened it with that 
poetry and idealism which is the German's her- 
itage. 

THE LANDESVATER 



1. 

Alles schweige ! Jeder neige 
ernsten Tonen nun sein Ohr! 
Hort, ich sing das Lied der 
Lieder ! hort es, meine deutschen 
Bruder! hall es, hall es wieder, 
froher Chor! 



Silence all! Let each atune 
his ear to solemn tones ! Listen, 
I sing the song of songs ! Hear 
it, my German brothers ! Echo 
it, echo it again, happy choir ! 



2. 
Deutschlands Sonne, laut er- 
tone euer Vaterlandsgesang! 
Vaterland! du Land des Ruh- 
mes, weih, zu deines Heilig- 
tumes Hiitern, uns und unser 
Schwert ! 



Germany's sons, loud rings 
your Fatherland's song! Fa- 
therland! the land of glory, 
consecrate to your sacred pro- 
tection us and these our swords ! 



38 



THE GERMANS 



3- 
Hab und Leben dir zu geben, 
sind wir allesamt bereit, ster- 
ben gern zu jeder Stunde, ach- 
ten nicht der Todeswunde, wenn 
das Vaterland gebeut. 



Life and possessions arc we 
all ready to give thee, glad to 
die at any hour, despising the 
death-wound when the Father- 
land commands. 



Wer's nicht fuhlet, selbst 
nicht zielet stets nach deutscher 
Manner Wert, soil nicht unsern 
Bund entehren, nicht bei diesem 
Degen schworen, nicht entwei- 
hen das deutsche Schwert. 



He who does not feel this, he 
who strives not always to attain 
the worth of German men, shall 
not dishonor our union, shall 
not swear by this weapon, shall 
not desecrate the German 
sword. 



5- 
Lied der Lieder, hall es wie- 
der ; gross und deutsch sei unser 
Mut ! Seht hier den geweihten 
Degen, tut, wie braven Bur- 
schen pflegen, und durchbohrt, 
den f reien Hut ! 



Seht ihn blinken in der Lin- 
ken, diesen Schlager, nie ent- 
weiht! Ich durchbohr den 
Hut und schwore, halten will 
ich stets auf Ehre, stets ein 
braver Bursche sein. 



Nimm den Becher, wackrer 
Zecher, vaterlandschen Trankes 
voll ! Nimm den Schlager in 
die Linke, bohr ihn durch den 
Hut und trinke auf des Vater- 
landes Wohl ! 



Song of songs, echo it again, 
great and German be our cour- 
age! See here, the consecrated 
weapon; do, as is the custom 
of brave fellows, and pierce 
through the cap of freedom ! 

6. 
See it flashing in the left 
hand — the sword never desecra- 
ted ! I pierce the cap and swear 
that I will ever hold to honor, 
ever be a true fellow (Bur- 
sche). 

7- 
Bold drinker, take the cup, 
brimming with the Fatherland's 
toast! Take the sword in the 
left hand, pierce the cap, and 
drink to the glory of the Fa- 
therland. 



THE EMPEROR'S BIRTHDAY 139 

Here follows the second part of the ceremony, 
when the caps are given back to certain verses of 
the song, which concludes thus — 



Auf, ihr Festgenossen, achtet 
unsre Sitte, heilig, schon ! Ganz 
mit Herz und Seele trachtet, 
stets als Manner zu bestehen. 
Froh zum Fest ihr trauten 
Briider, jeder sei der Vater 
wert ! Keiner taste je an's 
Schwert, der nicht edel ist und 
bieder. 



Thus, companions, respect 
our custom, holy, beautiful ! 
With heart and soul strive to 
live as men. Joyous in the 
feast, let each be worthy of his 
fathers, let no one touch the 
sword who is not noble and 
true. 



Ruhe von der Burschenfeier, 
blanker Weihedegen, nun! Je- 
der trachte, wackrer Freier um 
das Vaterland zu sein! Jedem 
Heil, der sich bemiihte ganz zu 
sein der Vater wert ! keiner 
taste je an's Schwert, der nicht 
edel ist und bieder. 



Shining weapon, rest now 
from this our ceremony! Let 
each endeavor to be the brave 
defender of the Fatherland! 
Hail to him who strives to be 
worthy of his race; and let no 
one touch the sword who is not 
noble and true. 



CHAPTER VIII 

THE DUEL 

STUDENT life and an incident — or rather tragedy 
— which was recently related to me leads me natur- 
ally to the subject of dueling in Germany. Briefly 
the tragedy — which is not of recent date, and, in- 
deed, belongs to all ages — is as follows : Two offi- 
cers, nicknamed Castor and Pollux on account of 
their unusually close and long friendship, were sta- 
tioned together in some desolate frontier garrison. 
Castor married. His wife, a young and pretty 
woman, came, as a matter of course, to share her 
husband's dreary and monotonous existence, and — 
equally as a matter of course — was bored to extinc- 
tion. Now she was musical, and it so happened that 
Pollux was also musical, and, as Hausfreund, it 
was only natural that he should constantly come 
to the house to play duets with his friend's wife. 

As time went on, ugly whispers were heard — how 
much truth there was in them no one knows — and 
the day came when the Colonel called Castor to 
140 



THE DUEL 141 

him and warned him that the honor of the regiment 
demanded that the scandal should be put an end to. 
Castor put an end to it. No doubt he discovered 
enough to justify the extreme course, but, be it as 
it may, he challenged his lifelong friend the same 
night, and the next morning was shot dead by him. 
It seemed indeed as though the "Gottesgericht" 
had once more failed to pick out the real culprit, 
but indeed Castor wished for no other fate. He Had 
lost his friend, his wife, his honor, and conse- 
quently his career, and death was the one possible 
solution. Pollux was sentenced to two years' for- 
tress, and, after the expiration of his sentence, left 
the army and married his dead wife's friend. All 
this is long ago, but I am told that though from that 
hour fortune seemed to smile on him, he became a 
wretched and broken man. Such is the tragedy. 
It is in no way new, but it is a typical instance of 
the causes which lead to a duel in Germany. It is 
typical also as regards the consequences which are 
very often fatal. 

Mark Twain's most delightful description of a 
French duel is, without doubt, a truthful cari- 
cature, but it is significant that even the Ameri- 
can's unlimited powers of seeing "the funny side 
of things" has not led him to touch lightly on the 



i 4 2 THE GERMANS 

German duel. It is, indeed, not a matter for jest- 
ing; and whether you approve or disapprove, you 
are at least impressed, awed even, by the stern code 
which commands one man deliberately to demand 
life for an injury done. The German is not given 
to treating the duel, or anything else for that 
matter, with a light or frivolous hand. I can not im- 
agine two heated opponents — after much advertise- 
ment and ceremonial — crossing dainty foils, and, 
after the first scratch, falling into each other's arms 
in floods of conciliatory tears. It is a too un-Ger- 
man tableau to be thinkable. The German goes 
out in the early morning, unheard and unseen save 
by those immediately concerned, and exchanges 
shots with his enemy at a given number of paces 
until one or other is hors de combat — perhaps dead. 
Sometimes the conditions may be less severe, the 
outcome less tragic — sometimes, but not often. For 
the German duel is a rarity even among students, 
who of all are the most given to the practice, and 
when it actually comes to pass, it means that the 
cause has been serious, requiring severe measures. 
I repeat, the duel is a rarity, not because people 
are beginning to disapprove of the system, but be- 
cause it is not in the German nature to trifle, least 
of all in the matter of his honor. He does not want 



THE DUEL 143 

to lay himself open to the charge of being ridicu- 
lous, and, since everything which is carried to ex- 
tremes is bound in the course of time to degenerate 
into the absurd, as in the case of the French duel, 
he takes care that the "Zweikampf" shall be a last 
solemn measure resorted to when no other course 
is possible. 

No doubt, from the English point of view, there 
is always another course that is possible. Had 
the tragedy which I have just related taken place 
in England, Castor would have simply sought his 
vengeance in the murky atmosphere of the Divorce 
Court, and there would have been an end of the 
matter. But the German sees that matter from an- 
other standpoint. His honor is his fetish, the foun- 
dations on which his whole life is built, and a man 
who had gone through Castor's experience would 
argue that he had not only lost his domestic happi- 
ness, but that his highest earthly treasure had been 
brutally trodden under foot, his good name for ever 
sullied. He would argue that a court of justice 
does not and can not repair this injury, and that to 
drag his name through the mud of publicity is only 
to add disgrace to disgrace. Hence he stands in 
contemptuous wonder before the picture of the 
Englishman who allows the holiest and ugliest de- 



i 4 4 THE GERMANS 

tails of his private life to be made the food for every 
daily rag, and who will even accept money in re- 
turn for the injury done him. For him such a 
course would be an impossibility, a horrible ab- 
surdity, which would damn him for ever in the 
eyes of the world as a coward, a man without suffi- 
cient personal courage to protect his honor, or — 
worse still — without sufficient sense of honor to 
make the protection a necessity. I once had a long 
discussion on the subject with a German gentle- 
man, and tried to make our standpoint clear to him, 
but he had always the same answer — 

"The man who takes money for his honor has 
never had any honor. He is a merchant who trades 
with his name and reputation." 

It is not my intention to discuss the ethical rights 
and wrongs of the case, but it must be admitted 
that in certain circumstances justice is helpless to 
make reparation. If it be said that in the duel it is 
more often than not the chief culprit who gets off 
unpunished, I can only retort that the same thing 
usually happens in the courts. Imagine Castor in 
the witness-box giving evidence against his wife 
and dearest friend, making a public scandal of all 
that was best and most sacred in his life, and ac- 
cepting money as a consolation! If innocence and 



THE DUEL 145 

blamelessness testify to a higher refinement and 
sensitiveness, who is most likely to feel the most 
— Castor, the man of honor, or Pollux, who has al- 
ready plunged into deceit and disloyalty? More- 
over — and this applies especially to Germany — the 
mud thrown in a court of justice is enough to 
make the man with the most spotless reputation 
shrink from seeking protection in that quarter. 

I need only to think of a certain great trial here, 
when a young and absolutely innocent girl was ac- 
cused — without the shadow of evidence — of the 
murder of her mother. It was simply a detestable 
trick played by the defenders of the real culprit, 
but that girl's life was made a hell on earth for 
something like two years. She was pursued by the 
vilest insinuations, insults, and taunts. The mob 
was incited against her; every detail of her life, her 
letters, her childhood, her clothes — down to the 
fact that she wore silk petticoats! — was made the 
subject of the most revolting discussions in open 
court, and in the daily papers. She was of good 
family, gently nurtured, highly educated; she had 
lost her mother under the most terrible circum- 
stances, and that these unchecked and purposeless 
calumnies, and the constant strain of their refuta- 
tion, did not turn her brain, has been my constant 



146 THE GERMANS 

wonder. For two years she fought her battle with 
truly heroic tenacity, and was at last grudgingly 
proclaimed victor over her calumniators. 

But what was their slight, almost nominal, pun- 
ishment compared to her sufferings? An editor was 
fined a few hundred marks — he made thousands 
over the case — and her life was ruined. Not "all the 
perfumes of Arabia" could wash her name clean 
from the wanton scandal with which it had been 
sullied, and to the end of her days no doubt the 
spiteful people of the world will nudge each other 
when they see her. "That is . Do you remem- 
ber the great trial? They said she murdered her 
mother, etc., etc. Where there is smoke there is al- 
ways fire," etc., etc. And all this without the faint- 
est scrap of justification, except that given by 
notorious liars and perjurers! It is not to be won- 
dered, therefore, that a gentleman, having been 
outrageously, insulted or injured, hesitates to drag 
his case into a German court, where spite, vindic- 
tiveness, and calumny are allowed to flourish with- 
out hindrance. It is not to be wondered at that he 
prefers to take his vengeance in his own hands. 

And, moreover, it is a fact that dueling prevents 
scandal, or, at least, prevents it from spreading. 
People keep tighter reins on their gossiping pro- 



THE DUEL 147 

pensities when they know that the object of their 
gossip is ready to demand life as an atonement. 
Even if the atonement be demanded, and the vic- 
tim of the calumny himself fall, the scandal is at 
an end — death holds up a warning hand before 
which the most confirmed scandal-monger shrinks 
back appalled. Under such circumstances the duel 
can only be resorted to as an extreme measure, when 
the insulted feels that death is preferable to life 
under the shadow of the injury which has been 
done him, and a duel over trifles is almost unknown, 
and universally condemned. The student is the 
worst culprit in this respect; his sense of honor is 
deliberately strained to a state of sensitiveness 
which makes the slightest lack of civility a cause 
of quarrel. Some time ago a student of one Corps 
neglected to salute a student of another Corps. A 
duel was the result, and cost one of the combatants 
his life. It was an accident — the survivor had only 
intended to disable his opponent; but public opin- 
ion was so strong that both Corps were suspended, 
and the seconds punished. Had the cause of the 
duel been serious, no one would have been pun- 
ished, for the German civil law, to all intents and 
purposes, recognizes — in certain cases — the duel as 
an inevitable evil. Nominal punishments are af- 



148 THE GERMANS 

fixed, ranging from six months to three years' "ar- 
rest," but the six months can be given in a fatal 
case ; and if the cause of the duel be proved suffi- 
ciently serious, and the proceedings throughout 
have been correct, the survivor will probably re- 
ceive his pardon from the Emperor or the ruler of 
the state. In any case the "arrest" has no sort of 
stigma attached to it — rather the contrary — and it 
must be added that abuse of this virtual permission 
is rare. 

The student who has had his over-sensitive 
honor wounded usually resorts to a "Sabel-Men- 
sur" — a more dangerous form of the ordinary 
Mensur, which, however, has rarely a serious out- 
come. He can not even enter into such a conflict 
without the approval of the Ehrengericht — the 
Court of Honor — formed of impartial fellow-stu- 
dents, who consider if the cause justifies the ex- 
treme measure, and arranges that the conditions 
shall be in proportion to the seriousness of the of- 
fense. They are young men, and it sometimes hap- 
pens that their decisions are not of the wisest, but, 
on the whole, they recognize the importance of 
their mission, and endeavor to modify the condi- 
tions if, according to their ideas, the duel prove 
inevitable. The tragic and foolish case which I 



THE DUEL 149 

have just mentioned happened some years ago, and 
has found no repetition as far as I know. Without 
doubt many duels are hushed up, and the causes — 
especially when they are serious — limited to the 
knowledge of those immediately concerned; but a 
fatal duel can not be passed over unchronicled, and 
in six years I have only heard of one case, and that 
was in another part of Germany. When it is re- 
membered that the German sense of honor is ex- 
tremely high-pitched, and that all men of the 
upper classes regard the duel as the one and only re- 
source for a gentleman who has been insulted, it 
must be admitted that the percentage is very low. 
Possibly the reason is that, where everybody lives 
in glass houses, everybody is very careful not to 
throw stones, and it is certainly true that German 
men are exceptionally polite to each other. 

The civilian duel is the rarest duel of all. The 
civilian has only his personal honor to protect, 
whereas the officer is guardian not only of his own 
but of his professional honor (Standesehre), and 
the latter is the most sensitive of all. The officer, 
in fact, is not to be considered as a private indi- 
vidual, but as the member of a great body — one is 
almost tempted to say a sacred body, since the Ger- 
man considers the protection of King and Father- 



150 THE GERMANS 

land a sacred duty. Hence an officer who is in- 
sulted is twice insulted, and if he does not immedi- 
ately resort to arms he is considered unworthy of 
his post, and is dismissed from the army. 

"I expect," stands in the Emperor's proclama- 
tion of 1872, "from the whole officers' Corps of my 
army that as in the past, so in the future, Honor 
shall be its highest treasure, to keep it pure and 
spotless the highest duty of the individual and of 
the whole body." 

This "Honor" entails something more than our 
idea of honor. It requires not only that a man 
should abstain from every unworthy action, but 
that he should represent outwardly in his person, 
in his words and actions, a high ideal which he 
must defend with his life from insult, from ridi- 
cule, from humiliation. This does not mean that a 
young lieutenant has the right to challenge his 
colonel when the latter has the audacity to find 
fault with him. This sort of insult must be sto- 
ically swallowed, and all sensitiveness kept out of 
sight where duty is concerned. Indeed, if a superior 
officer accepts a challenge from a subordinate, it 
costs both him and the challenger "the collar," as 
the saying goes — in other words, both will be re- 
quested to send in their commissions. 









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THE DUEL 151 

It is only outside the actual military service, in 
the private life of the officer, that the duel plays a 
part. Then anybody who attacks by word or deed 
a member of the officers' Corps is guilty of an in- 
direct Use Majeste, and unless an apology is imme- 
diately forthcoming, the punishment is swift and 
sure. This is known ; the German accepts the situa- 
tion. He treats the officer with careful respect and 
courtesy, and the officer in turn treats him with a 
cautious formality. It follows as a natural result 
that among the officers themselves all "ragging," 
chaff out of moderation, rough manners, a "letting- 
oneself-go," is almost unknown. Such things can 
but lead to the most disastrous results, and it is the 
business of every comrade to stop a quarrel or a 
joke before it reaches a point where there is no 
turning back. For it is a mistake to imagine that 
duelling is in any way encouraged or looked upon 
with favor. It is looked upon in the light of a 
dangerous but sometimes unavoidable operation in 
a case which has gone too far to be cured by any 
other means. An officer who has fought in a duel 
has cast a serious shadow over his own career; it is 
considered a sign of tactlessness, lack of self-con- 
trol, and so on, faults which obviously unfit him for 
a high post. If he has fought without just cause, or 



152 THE GERMANS 

forced a comrade into a quarrel with deliberate 
intent, he is summarily dismissed from the army. 
On the other hand, he may not refuse to fight. If 
he does so the same punishment awaits him. The 
case is put clearly by the Emperor himself in the 
course of the proclamation which I have already 
quoted: 

"The Court of Honor shall only proceed against 
officers on account of a duel when one or other of 
the combatants has, either as regards the cause or 
the conduct of the quarrel, sinned against the 
Standesehre. This must happen in the possible case 
of an officer criminally and without any cause in- 
sulting a comrade. For I will as little tolerate in 
my army an officer who is capable of wickedly in- 
juring a comrade's honor, as I will tolerate an of- 
ficer who does not know how to defend his honor." 

On another occasion, I believe, he declared that 
he would punish an officer who fought in a duel, 
but that he would dismiss an officer who refused a 
challenge. 

Thus it is clear that the duel is a serious matter 
from whatever point it is considered, and the pros- 
pect of a ruined career is sufficient to prevent the 
young hot-heads from allowing their passions to 
get the better of them. Moreover, there is always 



THE DUEL 153 

the Court of Honor — composed of specially- 
elected officers from the regiment — which, if it has 
not actually the power to prevent a duel, must al- 
ways be informed, and in correct cases decide 
whether there is sufficient cause, and what the con- 
ditions of the duel should be. A duel must be 
fought within twenty-four hours of the challenge, 
and all the arrangements, the informing of the 
court, the endeavors to bring about a reconcilia- 
tion, and so on, is given into the hands of the two 
seconds. Pistols are nearly always used, though 
sabers are allowed, and the distance and conditions, 
either a certain number of shots, or continued firing 
until one or both the combatants are hors de com- 
bat, depend entirely on the severity of the insult. 
But, as I have said, it rarely happens that trifles 
bring about such disasters. There is nearly always 
some tactful comrade at hand to prevent matters 
from reaching danger point, and thus when a duel 
actually takes place, the conditions are usually 
serious. The so-called American duel is looked 
upon as "unritterlich" (unchivalrous), and is never 
practised. 

So much for the duel as it exists in the German 
army. It may be decreasing, but I do not believe 
that it will ever cease to be a national institution 



154 THE GERMANS 

in certain classes of society, so long as it has the 
support of the Emperor. Only the other day an 
anxious member of the Reichstag brought in an 
appeal that duelling in the army might be alto- 
gether suppressed. The government retorted that 
for men of honor the duel was a necessity, and that 
it had no intention of interfering. 

In conclusion, I must mention the most difficult 
and the most disastrous form of duelling — that be- 
tween the officer and the civilian. Between one of- 
ficer and another the matter is simple enough. 
Both men are governed by the same code; but the 
civilian makes his own laws, and should he be of 
democratic tendencies, he may refuse to fight alto- 
gether. Or, what is worse from the officer's point 
of view, he may prove not "satisfactionsfahig" (not 
in a social position in equality with the challenger) . 
If an officer has been publicly insulted by a civilian 
who will not accept his challenge, or who is be- 
neath him socially, little remains for him but to 
send in his commission — he has allowed the uni- 
form to be insulted, and has been unable to de- 
mand satisfaction. Should he actually receive a 
blow, he has no option but to draw his sword, and 
it is expressly stated that he must not draw it 



THE DUEL 155 

merely to threaten or intimidate. Count von 
Schwerin wrote as follows on the subject: 

"Without any fault of his it can happen that an 
officer is insulted (a blow is meant in this instance) 
by a man from whom he can not demand satisfac- 
tion. In such a case, where the attack is usually un- 
expected and treacherous, it is necessary to act with 
the greatest determination; then the officer must 
make use of his weapon. An officer who sees him- 
self forced, either after an attack or before a threat- 
ening attack, to draw his sword must never do so 
simply to frighten." 

This law has led to more than one tragedy, 
though it must be said to the credit of the German 
lower classes, and to the self-control of the officers 
themselves, that they are very rare. A case of this 
description actually occurred in Karlsruhe some 
time ago. An officer was seated with friends in a 
rather second-class cafe, when a man of inferior 
social position, passing behind his chair, deliber- 
ately tried to tip it up and throw the officer to the 
ground. The officer thought it wiser to treat the 
matter as an accident, and went on talking. The 
man passed a second time, acting in the same man- 
ner. The officer, feeling that the incident had been 



156 THE GERMANS 

witnessed by every one in the cafe, and that he was 
the object of general interest, rose to his feet and 
demanded an explanation. The man answered in- 
solently, and the officer, seeing with whom he had 
to deal, and infuriated by the disastrous tangle in 
which he had innocently become involved, hastily 
left the cafe, intending to report the matter to head- 
quarters. As ill-luck would have it, his opponent 
had meanwhile been thrust out of a side door by the 
indignant proprietor of the cafe, and the two men 
came suddenly face to face at the corner. Whether 
the civilian meant to attack or not is uncertain. At 
any rate the officer saw in this reappearance a fur- 
ther intention to insult him, and, drawing his 
sword, ran his aggressor through the body. Ac- 
cording to the laws which govern his profession, he 
acted in the only way possible, but he was none the 
less severely punished, and afterward sent out to 
East Africa to a certain death, not because he had 
killed the civilian, but because he had mixed in 
society which was not fitting for a man wearing 
the king's uniform, and had allowed the quarrel 
to reach a stage where he could not have acted 
otherwise. 

It can be imagined that under these conditions 
the officer in uniform is chary of all civilian society 



THE DUEL i 57 

which is in the least "mixed," and is never to be 
seen in any but first-class restaurants and places of 
amusement. All this has helped to close him in a 
narrow, exclusive circle, cutting him off from all 
other classes, and making him, as I shall attempt to 
describe him in the next chapter, a man apart. 



CHAPTER IX 

THE COAT OF MANY COLORS 

THERE are four regiments stationed in Karlsruhe, 
two Artillery, one Dragoon, and one Grenadier, be- 
side what is called a Telegraphabteilung, and a 
battalion of Army Service Corps, forming in all a 
force of about five thousand men and two hundred 
officers. You would expect, therefore, to find the 
principal street bright with uniforms, and to 
breathe a highly military atmosphere. As a matter 
of fact you would scarcely notice that you were in 
a garrison town at all, unless you were led to the 
gates of the barracks; and you can wander up and 
down the Kaiser Strasse for hours at the busiest 
time of the day, and perhaps meet a couple of of- 
ficers and a handful of privates all on business 
bound. This fact is all the more remarkable be- 
cause you meet every one on the Kaiser Strasse; it 
is a sort of public at-home, so that if you particu- 
larly want to see a friend without going to the 
bother of calling, you need only parade the street 

158 



THE COAT OF MANY COLORS 159 

at a certain hour of the day to attain your purpose. 
But the officer is a rara avis among the Bummelers. 
You can have a dozen acquaintances in a regiment 
and never meet a single one of them out-of-doors, 
except perhaps on the way to the opera in the even- 
ing. Where, then, are these two hundred wearers 
of the "Bunten Rock," and what is their life that 
they can not afford the time to take their sociable 
stroll like other mortals? Such was the question I 
once asked a young lieutenant at a dance. He was 
the picture of physical weariness, and though he 
danced and talked with heroic tenacity, one could 
see that he was ready to sink into the nearest chair 
and sleep the sleep of the dead. He looked at me 
reproachfully. 

"What do I do all day?" he said. "Would you 
really like to know?" 

I assured him that it would interest me ex- 
tremely, and he proceeded with the day's pro- 
gramme. 

"I get up at half-past six in the morning. At 
half-past seven I am all ready for the march with 
the troops, with whom I exercise until half-past ten. 
At eleven I have my riding lessons, which last until 
half-past twelve. From one o'clock to three is 
pause. At three o'clock I instruct the under-officers 



160 THE GERMANS 

in history and strategy. At five o'clock I have my 
first solid meal, and can have my bath and change 
my uniform. From six to seven I hold a lecture to 
the recruits. After that I can go to the opera, un- 
less I am too tired, or invited or commanded to 
some military function, in which case I can not 
reckon on more than four or five hours' sleep. 
Later on I am going in for the staff examination, 
and then I don't see how I am going to get to bed 
at all." 

He said all this with a cheerfulness which was 
almost pathetic, taken in connection with his boyish 
face, and he then threw off his weariness to relate 
to me all the details of his soldier's life, his love for 
his work, his interest in his recruits, his hopes for 
the future. Gradually, as I listened to him, I for- 
got his extreme youth. Beneath the enthusiasm 
there was already the deeper note of a solemn re- 
sponsibility, the knowledge that the uniform he 
wore was the outward symbol of a sacred trust. I 
met him again two or three years later, when the 
novelty of his life had worn off, and although he 
could not have been more than twenty-two, all his 
boyishness was gone, all the overflow of enthusi- 
asm. The enthusiasm was still there, but it had be- 
come the stern, controlled enthusiasm of a fully 



THE COAT OF MANY COLORS 161 

developed man, who has already weathered the 
troubles, disappointments, and trials of a strenuous 
career. It was impossible to imagine him indulg- 
ing in some mad youthful prank or running into 
any form of excess. His duty — the great fetish of 
the German soldier — demanded his mind and body 
and soul. No doubt he was an extreme case, the 
type of ambition which is always feverish to be get- 
ting on ; and no doubi there are many of his com- 
rades who are content merely to do what they must 
and take the pleasures that offer themselves. 

It would not be too much to say that the lazy 
good-for-nothing does not and can not exist in the 
German army — or if he exists, it is only for a short 
breathing space, until the inevitable time comes 
when the eyes of the powers-that-be pass critically 
over his career, and he is weeded out with the most 
merciless promptitude. It does not often happen 
that this weeding process is necessary, for the sim- 
ple reason that before a young man is allowed to 
don his lieutenant's epaulettes he has already been 
through a severe test as regards his mental and 
moral standards. The tests are threefold. Either 
he has been brought up in the Cadettenschule — the 
most economical way — from whence he passes into 
the army as ensign, or he is prepared in the Gym- 



162 THE GERMANS 

nasium, and must serve first as a common soldier, 
working his way up to the rank of lieutenant, or he 
may enter through the "back door," as it is called. 
The latter possibility comes into consideration in 
the case of an Einjahriger (an ordinary civilian 
serving his year with the colors), who, having 
shown a strong liking and talent for the military 
profession, and having won the favor of his superi- 
ors, is invited to remain. This does not often hap- 
pen, however. The first two entrances are the most 
usual, though it does not by any means follow that 
they are open to everybody. 

An officer who had been commanded as instruc- 
tor to the Cadettenhaus told me that out of ten boys 
under his charge only one had become an officer. 
Either through mental, physical, or moral unfitness 
the other nine were all weeded out before they took 
their places in the army. They were not necessarily 
bad, weak, or stupid — they simply had not the pe- 
culiar virtues which a German officer must possess. 
Absolute veracity, self-control, punctuality, a high 
conception of duty, and the Standesehre, and a cer- 
tain personal dignity, is the least which is expected. 
It goes without saying that good birth is among the 
first requirements. In most cases it is necessary to 
have two relations in the army, who stand as a 



THE COAT OF MANY COLORS 163 

sort of guarantee, but if the family prove unex- 
ceptional, this rule can be dispensed with. In any 
case, whether the candidate seek his admission 
through the Cadettenschule, or the Gymnasium, or 
the back door, whether he has protection and high 
birth, or whether he has no protection, and is the 
plainest of the plain family of Muller, he has one 
final barrier to surmount over which no human 
power, not even that of the Emperor, can help him. 
If in the course of his ensign's career he has made 
himself unpopular, or has shown unfavorable 
qualities, the officers of the regiment to which he is 
attached black-ball him at his election, and there is 
the end of his military activity. It is indeed suffi- 
cient for one vote against his admission into the 
brotherhood to shut him out for ever, though it 
must be understood that the vote may not be given 
without a proper and proven reason. The officer 
who votes out of spite runs the very real risk of 
being cashiered himself, so that a young fellow who 
is really fitted for his future post has nothing to 
fear from the judgment of his comrades. This 
power which is given into the hands of the officer's 
corps has successfully stemmed the invasion of the 
Jew and the parvenu, and it has helped to make the 
bond of comradeship closer and stronger. 



164 THE GERMANS 

And the life of the German officer, once his ad- 
mission has been secured, of what does it consist 
that it should be looked upon by so many as the 
most enviable? It is often a brilliant misery, a 
brilliant show, and behind the scenes strenuous, 
unremitting labor, poor prospects, a hand-to-hand 
struggle with poverty. For the officer, like the 
aristocrat, is rarely a man of means; his pay is 
absolutely inadequate and remains inadequate even 
in the highest posts, and yet he must always repre- 
sent his position worthily: he must wear spotless 
uniforms, he must ride good horses, he must take 
his share in the life of his comrades, he must never 
be seen either in a place of refreshment or amuse- 
ment that is not first-class — inevitably in price as 
well as in quality. The pay of a careful lieutenant 
in a line regiment may cover his bare military ex- 
penses — his uniforms, mess bills, subscriptions, etc., 
but it will do no more than that, and it is therefore 
a law that no one can become an officer without a 
guarantee "Zulage" of at least £3 a month. This is 
the very least — it is granted by the Emperor in de- 
serving cases — but it is the most pitiful penury. 

I heard of one young officer, in a crack regiment 
in Berlin, who existed on this sum, and the tale of 
his struggles has always aroused my deepest admi- 




The splendid German infantry 



THE COAT OF MANY COLORS 165 

ration. He even washed his pocket-handkerchiefs 
himself, and cleaned his white kid gloves with ben- 
zine, and lived on food which would make the 
British workman even sorrier for himself than he 
is. Yet he was one of the smartest men of his regi- 
ment! This is, of course, an extreme case, and was 
only possible in earlier and cheaper days, but in 
modified degrees the same heroic struggle is to be 
found everywhere. 

And then there is the blank hopelessness of it 
all. An ordinarily intelligent man has positively 
no prospects. The advancement is painfully 
slow — he is generally ten to fourteen years a lieu- 
tenant — and in the ordinary course of events the 
Emperor will graciously dispense with his services 
in the best years of his life. He may, perhaps, reach 
the rank of major or lieutenant-colonel, and then 
one fine morning he will wake up to find the fatal 
blue letter on his table and know that his career is 
finished; that hale, hearty, hard-working, and 
faithful though he may be, his country has no more 
need of him. "Going to bed with the helmet and 
waking up with the top-hat," is the officer's whim- 
sical description of the incident. But in reality this 
is the tragedy of German military life, and it is one 
to which most must look forward. An intelligence 



1 66 THE GERMANS 

even well above the average is not sufficient to guar- 
antee a successful, much less a brilliant, career. 
For one good post there are always a hundred can- 
didates ; and what good does it do B. if he has done 
well in his examination if A. has done better? The 
prize is not for him. And what of A.'s career? It 
is not said that now he has been passed into the 
Staff College his success is established. Without 
means, without family, he is still unlikely to rise 
to any high post. Study the Rangliste, and you will 
find that the generals, commanders and so on are 
all men of noble birth, and only under exceptional 
circumstances is the necessary (not hereditary) 
patent of nobility granted to a talented bourgeois 
officer. 

So much for the prospects. Added to the hope- 
lessness of the average officer's outlook, there is the 
strenuous, almost unremitting, duty, its exhausting 
monotony, the short, insignificant respites. The au- 
thorities recognize the brain-killing propensities of 
the daily routine, and as much as possible is done 
to give the officer a chance to see the world and to 
gain experience and relaxation. There are "Com- 
mandos" abroad for the officer who wishes to study 
languages, Commandos in Berlin, Hanover, and so 
on, and the officer who can afford it is always given 



THE COAT OF MANY COLORS 167 

leave to travel and hunt even in the most remote 
corners of the hemisphere. But how many officers 
can afford such luxuries? And the officer who has 
been granted one brilliant Commando — say to the 
riding-school in Hanover for a year — need hope 
for no more ban bouches of that sort for a long time 
to come. So the daily round goes on. In Karlsruhe 
the life is comparatively full of relaxation. At a din- 
ner party in Berlin, where officers from a dozen reg- 
iments were gathered together, a civilian observed 
that they had all grumbled about their garrisons 
except a certain Lieutenant X., who had listened to 
the complainings with a smile of sweet content. 

"That would be the last straw if he grumbled!" 
retorted a Hussar captain. "He is stationed at 
Karlsruhe. There isn't one of us who wouldn't 
crawl on his knees backwards to get there!" 

No doubt the Karlsruhe citizen would shake his 
head over such a reckless statement, but the officer 
is less spoiled and the despised residenz is a wildly 
exciting spot, a military paradise, compared to the 
garrisons of some of the best regiments. Here, at 
least, the officer is the enfant gate at court and in 
society. 'He has more invitations than he can ac- 
cept, and if he should have an evening free he has 
a seat in the opera practically without charge. 



168 THE GERMANS 

It is very different with some of his less fortunate 
comrades. Far away on the desolate Russian 
frontier, in miserable villages where there is no 
house to which a man could bring his wife and 
children, out of reach of all human intercourse 
outside the regiment, hundreds of officers, belong- 
ing to crack regiments for the most part, are 
spending the best years of their life with only the 
faintest prospect of one day being transferred — 
perhaps to some garrison a degree worse! These 
garrisons are the most dangerous for the young of- 
ficer. It is there that in pure desperation he is 
tempted to drink and gambling, though he knows 
that both vices are his sure undoing. Even if the 
commander at his own risk ventures to close an eye 
to the conduct of his officers, his sin is bound to find 
him out. There comes the pitiless strain of the 
manceuvers, and only he who is fit in mind and 
body can pass through the ordeal in safety. 

The yearly manceuvers are the high test which 
is put to the whole body and to each individual. 
It is the great winnowing time of the German army. 
When the two months are over the "Blue Letters" 
are as plentiful as leaves in autumn. Generals who 
have failed to distinguish themselves, colonels 
whose regiments have lacked smartness, captains 



THE COAT OF MANY COLORS 169 

who have "muddled," sometimes even lieutenants 
— they all go through the unpleasant experience 
which I have already described as exchanging the 
helmet for the top-hat. Consequently the profli- 
gate and the incapable is the great exception, and 
his career is short and disastrous. He is like a 
badly working cog in an immense piece of machin- 
ery, and he is promptly taken out, thrown on the 
rubbish heap, and replaced by another and better. 
"All actions which can injure the reputation of 
the individual or of the whole body, especially all 
dissipation, drinking, gambling, the acceptation of 
obligations which might have the appearance of 
dishonesty, risky speculations, participation in the 
promotion of companies whose purpose and repu- 
tation is not irreproachable, also all efforts to 
obtain wealth by means not clearly above all criti- 
cism, these must the officer hold far from him. The 
more wealth and luxury increase elsewhere, the 
more serious does the officer's duty become ; never 
to forget that it is not material possessions which 
have given him and will continue to give him his 
high and honored place in the state and in society. 
Not only is his fitness injured by an effeminate 
mode of life, but his whole standing will be endan- 
gered by the struggle after wealth and luxury." 



170 THE GERMANS 

Such is the Emperor's grave warning, and it has 
proved more than a warning. Luxury, ostentation, 
all forms of dissipation, have been put down with 
an iron hand, and the officers' Corps is a model for 
the nation and the world in the stern fulfilment of 
its hard duty, in its self-sacrifice, its self-control, its 
self-abnegation. The officer literally dedicates his 
whole life to his profession. He may not even 
marry without the Emperor's consent, and that can 
not be obtained until he has proved that his future 
wife brings with her a good name and a spotless 
reputation, and that he has sufficient wealth to keep 
her as his position demands. 

And the return for this absolute surrender — the 
reward? Material reward there is none; there is 
only this, that the officer is looked upon and treated 
as a man apart, as the bearer and protector of the 
national honor, as a great high priest whose vest- 
ment is the symbol of the noblest human calling. 
Accustom yourself to this standpoint, and you will 
understand why it is expressly commanded that an 
officer shall only associate in the best society, that 
he must keep himself clean from all possible con- 
tamination, and that should he become contam- 
inated he must be prepared to pay for the injury 
done to his calling with his life. He is the Levite 



THE COAT OF MANY COLORS 171 

of the nation, and in return for his renunciations he 
is granted certain privileges. The first and great- 
est of these, is his position in society. The officer 
has the entree into every social circle no matter 
how exalted; he is the comrade of his Emperor, he 
is respected by all classes save those which regard 
national honor as of no account. From the moment 
that Herr Schmidt dons the King's coat his whole 
position in the world changes — he has become 
somebody, he can no longer be ignored. This im- 
mense respect which is shown to the uniform would 
be a danger if the man who wore it were unworthy 
of respect, but in truth the veneration with which 
the officer is treated is by no means blind, and has 
not its source in a morbid worship of militarism. 
It is because the average German officer is a man of 
high principles, clean living, and clean thinking 
that the uniform has come to be looked upon as a 
guarantee, a hall-mark. There is, as in everything, 
the shadowy side. There are men who enter the 
army simply to obtain the position it gives, though 
that type of soldier soon wearies of the privilege 
when he finds at what cost it must be bought; there 
are youngsters enough who give themselves great 
airs over their civilian brothers. In a German 
Witzblatt I remember seeing a picture of a Prus- 



172 THE GERMANS 

sian lieutenant standing at the foot of Mont Blanc, 
stroking the vestige of a moustache, and contem- 
plating the mighty mountain with a haughty eye. 

"Donnerwetter! how ridiculously small a civ- 
ilian must feel!" is his only remark, and there is 
enough truth in the jest to make one laugh heartily. 
But his arrogance is simply a malady of youth, and 
disappears with the lieutenant's epaulettes. On the 
whole one is surprised at the simplicity and unaf- 
fectedness of the average German officer. The 
lieutenant may seem a trifle conceited when you 
observe him on the street — and, indeed, show me 
the young man who would not feel a twinge of self- 
satisfaction when his uniform is so new and fits his 
slight figure to perfection? — but once you get to 
know him this impression vanishes. He is the 
cavalier par excellence, unfailing in his courtly 
politeness, but neither stiff nor pretentious. 

As I write a picture arises out of my many mem- 
ories of a little dance we gave in the course of this 
winter. There were six or seven lieutenants from 
the same regiment present — not boys by any means, 
most of them being well over twenty-five — and in 
an interval they were set down to a competition in 
— hat trimming! The results after the alotted ten 
minutes were quite remarkable; a straw toque with 



THE COAT OF MANY COLORS 173 

a green veil behind ("to keep off sunstroke," as 
the originator proudly explained to the mystified 
judge), pink and yellow roses clustered in front, 
and a blue ribbon was one of the most effective ef- 
forts. But the picture of a six-foot, broad-shoul- 
dered officer huddled together in a remote corner 
struggling with a needle and cotton and refractory 
ribbons can still bring tears of laughter to my eyes. 
Afterward they played musical-chairs and the 
Queen of Sheba with the energy and enthusiasm of 
school-boys. I hasten to tender my apologies ; I am 
sure no self-respecting school-boy would have low- 
ered himself sufficiently to have indulged in the 
childish amusements of these grown men, one of 
them already burdened with the responsibilities of 
an adjutancy. I must add, however, that had a num- 
ber of civilians been present they would scarcely 
have acted as they did ; it was only because they 
were entre eux that they felt they could relax from 
the dignity which their uniform requires of them in 
public life. 

Such, then, is the arrogant, Schwert-rasselender 
Prussian officer; let us now pass on to the great 
force at whose head he stands, and consider what 
the units are worth and how it fares with them. I 
'have seen the German soldier in a good many dif- 



174 THE GERMANS 

ferent aspects. I have seen him assisting the police 
against an excited mob; I have seen him helping 
our elderly Karlsruhe firemen in the midst of a big 
conflagration. I have seen him dancing with his 
Schatz at the Kaiser Ball; I have seen him in his 
very best at the Kaiser Parade and at his very best 
in the stress of the manceuvers, and I flatter my- 
self that I know him very fairly. He is not an ele- 
gant individual; in South Germany, where the 
whole race is smaller, he is of middle height, thick- 
set, somewhat clumsy of build, the latter feature 
emphasized by his uniform, which, though excel- 
lent in material, fits a peu pres only. But he is the 
picture of health and sturdy strength. 

As you watch the Grenadiers on Sunday march- 
ing to the military church, you are struck less by the 
individual smartness than by the respectability, the 
honesty and orderliness of character, which each 
weather-beaten young face expresses. You feel that 
these are not show soldiers, they are not paraded 
through the town as a sort of national advertise- 
ment; they are the sturdy bulwark of their country, 
the best elements which the people can produce, 
being trained not only to fight, but to live a healthy, 
decent life. And as they look so they are. I remem- 
ber last summer reading an account of the German 



THE COAT OF MANY COLORS 175 

manoeuvers, in which the English writer expressed 
his admiration for the German soldier's powers of 
endurance and, above all, of his sobriety and order- 
liness not only on duty but in his amusements. He 
mentioned that during the whole time he had been 
with the troops he had not seen one drunken or 
disorderly soldier. I was gratified to find my 
own experience thus endorsed by one of my own 
countrymen. 

It happened that in that same summer the 
Kaiser Parade took place in our neighborhood, so 
that a whole Army Corps — thirty-five thousand 
men — were stationed in and about Karlsruhe. Dur- 
ing the three days in which we were thus inundated, 
the town, though alive with different uniforms, was 
absolutely quiet and orderly. There were no cases 
of drunkenness or rowdiness — a church festival 
could not have been more sober. As to the parade 
itself, it was a sight which could not but excite even 
the most critical foreigner to unbounded admira- 
tion. It was not the mere incident of the march 
past — most armies can manage that much — but it 
was the perfect discipline, the good-humor of the 
troops, their whole-hearted participation in this 
great event, which was like a breath of fresh clean 
air. One could see as they tramped past our car- 



176 THE GERMANS 

riage on the way to their assigned positions on the 
field, that each one of them was impressed with his 
own importance, his own power to help his su- 
periors to the Emperor's praise. And surely even 
the Emperor — severe critic though he is supposed 
to be — must have been well satisfied on that day. 

There was not a hitch, not a fault, not an instant's 
confusion, each man moving as though he were the 
incorporate part of his neighbor; an immense piece 
of machinery seemed to come to life at a word, a 
signal. "Machinery!" says the foreign critic with 
a self-satisfied shake of the head. "Yes, that typi- 
fies the German soldier — a piece of machinery 
without initiative." Possibly the critic is right. I 
do not think either that if the German soldier were 
left to his own devices that he would perform any 
feats of strategy — it is not expected of him. The 
officers are the brains and the soldiers are the body, 
and it is not desirable that either should attempt the 
work of the other. Absolute blind obedience and 
discipline is the first and greatest virtue of the Ger- 
man soldier, and the Franco-Prussian war proved 
that it was worth more than the individual intelli- 
gence of the Frenchman. 

As to the methods by which the German is 
trained to this state of perfection, I can quite well 



THE COAT OF MANY COLORS 177 

believe it when I am told that the two years which 
the common man spends with the troops are the 
happiest and healthiest in his life. Certainly at no 
other time is he so well clothed, well fed, and well 
looked after. I am speaking now of the ordinary 
private — "Freiwilliger." The Einjahriger, that is 
to say the educated man who has passed a certain 
examination and need only serve one year, has no 
doubt his bad moments. It is without doubt an ex- 
cellent discipline, but it can not be always agreeable 
to share the life, even to the sleeping quarters, of 
the common soldier, and to be helpless before the 
abuse of the under-officer, who not seldom takes a 
spiteful delight in exercising his temporary author- 
ity over his social superior. "Words, not deeds," 
however, is the extent of the bullying to which the 
private as well as the Einjahriger has to submit. 
The under-officer may pour out his whole vocab- 
ulary over the head of the raw, and usually very 
stupid, recruit, but the brutality with which the 
German soldier is supposed to be treated is a mere 
fable. The few cases of misused authority are al- 
ways severely punished, and are not more fre- 
quent than in any other branch of life. The officer 
himself is on excellent terms with his men. The 
Burschen (orderlies) are usually devoted to their 



178 THE GERMANS 

superiors and their families, whom they serve in 
every conceivable capacity from butler to nurse- 
maid. 

At no time can one judge so well of the rela- 
tions between officers and men as at the Kaiser Ball, 
where the soldier plays the leading part. That he 
is not a broken-spirited, driven, bullied victim of 
militarism is obvious. At the opening of the pro- 
ceedings a military play is given in which he 
glories in the part of the officer, taking off the char- 
acteristics and eccentricities of some particular 
personage, to the delight of the officer's Corps, even 
of the object himself. Afterward comes the dan- 
cing. Each soldier may bring one "lady" friend, 
who is regaled with sausage and beer free of 
charge. Her cavalier's first act is to bring her up 
to his favorite lieutenant, and, at attention, with a 
broad grin on his healthy, red face, ask, "Ob der 
Herr Lieutenant nicht mit der Meinen tanzen 
nochte?" ("If the Herr Lieutenant would not like 
to dance with his girl?") And the lieutenant 
waltzes off with the blushing little housemaid, 
whilst the soldier, who would not have parted with 
her to an equal for all the riches in the world, 
stands aside ready to burst with pride and delight. 
Afterward the lieutenants dance with all the lead- 



THE COAT OF MANY COLORS 179 

ing ladies in turn, the under-officers' wives and so 
on, and woe to him who through an oversight 
misses out one of the fair and jealous partners! 
When this social duty is over the officers disappear, 
and the under-officers advance to the position of 
the "great men" of the evening. 

I have had sufficient opportunity to study the 
relations between the private and the under-officer, 
not only at the Kaiser Ball, but on the exercising 
ground and in the bivouac, and the tone has always 
seemed to be one of open good-comradeship. I re- 
member after the Kaiser Parade we were allowed 
to wander through the camp of a regiment on its 
way back to the garrison. Zeppelin III was ex- 
pected every minute, and the soldiers were sitting 
and lying in little groups singing their songs, and 
keeping a sharp look-out in the direction from 
whence the airship was expected to appear. The 
under-officers mingled with the men, joined in the 
singing, exchanged jokes, drank with them, and it 
was obvious that dislike or fear were out of the 
question. No doubt the under-officer is something 
of a martinet in work time, and a fine stickler for 
exactitude, but I do not fancy that the ordinary 
German soldier feels himself particularly injured 
when he is told after the twentieth blunder that he 



180 THE GERMANS 

is a sheep's head, an imbecile, an idiot, a donkey, 
etc. Perhaps he thinks so himself. This abuse is 
just what he understands, and it must be said that 
in his turn the under-officer gets his share — in fact, 
the criticism goes down the scale, adapting itself to 
the rank of the criticized with amusing exactness. 
At a manceuver a regiment fails to distinguish it- 
self — the general calls the colonel to him — 

"Lieber Kamarad, a little more smartness is nec- 
essary — the men are too slow. I should be grateful 
if you would see your way to effecting an improve- 
ment." 

They shake hands. The colonel calls the major 
to him — 

"Herr Major, his Excellency has expressed his 
dissatisfaction over the conduct of the troops — the 
wretched crawling and slovenliness particularly 
attracted his notice. I trust you will assist me in 
correcting these failings." 

The major salutes and calls the captains to him — 

"Meine Herrn! the colonel is furious with the 
disgraceful management of the men. It is unheard 
of — I must request you both by word and example 
to bring the regiment back to its old smartness. 
This sort of thing can not go on. It is the duty of 
the younger officers," etc., etc. 




Island fortress in the Rhine 



THE COAT OF MANY COLORS 181 

The captains to the lieutenants — 

"The colonel is beside himself about yesterday; 
never saw such a wretched performance in his life. 
The leading and behavior of the men was beneath 
all criticism. There must be an improvement in 
these matters. It is the duty of the lieutenant," etc., 
etc. 

The lieutenants to the under-officers — 

"What's the matter with your men? Miserable 
performance! Can't you bring them up to the 
mark better than that? Upon my word, I'm 
ashamed of the lot of you, and if there isn't a 
change for the better in less than no time — " 

Under-officers to their men — 

"You idiots, you dolts, you sheep's head, you — " 

But the English language can not keep pace with 
the under-officers' vocabulary, which is rich and 
lurid. However, the storm blows over at last, and 
nobody's feelings are wounded beyond healing. 

That the two years with the troops is beneficial 
for the common man is undeniable. At the begin- 
ning of the military year you can often see a crowd 
of sloppy, underfed, bow-legged, round-shoul- 
dered youths being marched off from the station by 
an under-officer, and a few months later you see the 
same party in uniform, straight built, well fed, 



i8z THE GERMANS 

healthy, respectable-looking fellows, who are be- 
ing taught to live morally and physically a decent, 
useful life. If eternal peace were signed to-mor- 
row by all the nations, and Germany's army had to 
disband, it would be a national disaster — the finest 
school in the country would be closed. 

As to the so-called militarism with which Ger- 
many is supposed to be inflicted, I can only say that 
in no other country are military matters less 
fussed and worried over. Everybody who can 
serves his time — it is regarded as something as 
natural as daily food — and outside the officers and 
under-officers there is no professional army. There 
are no hired soldiers; each citizen brings a short 
time out of his life and sacrifices it to his country, 
and receives in return a physical and moral train- 
ing which should fit him all the better for a citi- 
zen's career. This seems to me no more militarism 
than compulsory education. In England no one 
seems to think it an encroachment on the public 
liberty to force children up to a certain age to 
learn; after that — in the most important years of 
their life — they are allowed to run wild, and the 
state washes its hands of them. In Germany the 
state takes up the threads of its responsibility a sec- 
ond time, and, having trained the child, proceeds to 



THE COAT OF MANY COLORS 183 

train the man. If in this training it recompenses 
itself by building up an overwhelming force with 
which to protect itself, it need not, on that account, 
be accused of undue militarism. It can only be 
congratulated on having successfully killed two 
birds with one stone. 

We have now considered the units which go to 
make up the Emperor's army. In conclusion I can 
only add that no statistics can reveal its full 
strength and striking power. The German army is 
the result of a steady and uninterrupted develop- 
ment. It has not been and can not be checked by 
changes of government; it has not been subjected to 
the eccentricities and fads of varying civilian mud- 
dlers. It has its fixed and tested system on which 
it has been built up and on which it continues to 
grow. Unlike the French army of 1870, and un- 
like many European armies of to-day, its resources 
are not only on paper — they actually exist. On the 
first of May each year the great mobilization plans 
are given out, and every single department is tested 
to prove its absolute readiness and efficiency. There 
are no "paper" horses, "paper" ammunition, "pa- 
per" uniforms, and — worst of all — "paper" men. 
Everything is there, "to the last button on the 
gaiter," as an officer proudly boasted to me: and if 



1 84 THE GERMANS 

war were declared with an hour's notice the Em- 
peror would only have to give the signal, and in an 
instant the whole immense machinery would be in 
movement. Every officer has his sealed orders, and 
every detail is arranged, even to the transport trains 
and the hours at which they leave for the different 
frontiers. 

The Germans boast that their navy is governed 
by the same complete readiness and efficiency, and 
that the health and "moral" of their soldiers and 
sailors have no equivalent in the world. Most na- 
tions claim this superiority, but what I have seen 
leads me to the conclusion that the German has 
every right to his pride and every reason to look 
upon his army as "model," and upon his navy as a 
force of growing and incalculable possibilities. 



CHAPTER X 

THE GERMAN WOMAN 

"KINDER, Kirche, und Kiiche," is supposed to be 
the adage of the German woman. I do not know 
who invented it, but I should like to ask that person 
how he came to add "Kirche" to the list, or if it 
was only for the sake of the alliteration. Children 
and the kitchen — yes, perhaps — but church? With 
the adage clearly printed in my mind, I have been 
constantly on the lookout, for some proof of its 
veracity, but hitherto have found none. Perhaps 
it is a saying which, like so many others, belongs to 
a time long past, and has been dragged on into the 
present without anybody taking the trouble to con- 
sider whether it is still true. Or perhaps it refers 
to the sterner northern woman, who takes all her 
duties with a greater earnestness, though even this 
latter theory seems to me unlikely. For the German 
lady — according to my observations — worries less 
about church than any other lady in the world. 
That is not to say that she is irreligious — quite the 

185 



1 86 THE GERMANS 

contrary; but if she attends morning service once a 
week for an hour, she considers herself a tremen- 
dous churchgoer; and if she assists in the choir, 
which sings on great occasions, she is looked upon 
as a person of extreme piety and devotion. On the 
other hand, there are in Karlsruhe hundreds of 
women — especially of the better class — who go to 
church occasionally, sometimes only at Christmas 
and Easter, and who are looked upon as perfectly 
respectable Christian people. They do their duty 
by the church, they pay their taxes, they send the 
clergyman food and clothes for his charities, they 
are on bowing, and perhaps on calling terms with 
him as a private individual, but he plays no active 
part in their lives, and church decorations, parish 
work, and all the small practical duties with which 
an Englishwoman of leisure loves to load herself, 
are practically unknown. I say "practically" for 
safety's sake, for it is just possible that in some 
remote corner of Karlsruhe some busy little body is 
endeavoring to become the Pfarrer's right hand, 
but I have not yet met her, and her existence is a 
pure surmise. 

It is quite true that the churches are always over- 
crowded, and by far the greater part with women, 
but it is a noted fact that Karlsruhe is too poorly 



THE GERMAN WOMAN 187 

provided in this respect, and in other towns, Frank- 
furt and Mannheim for instance, the case is very 
different. Of couse I am speaking of the Protestant 
German woman; the Catholic is compelled by her 
religion to keep to a more frequent attendance. The 
German State Church is broad in the broadest 
sense, and allows its children to do and think very 
much what they like. Hence, if Frau Schmidt 
does not go to church every Sunday morning, the 
fact is not made the subject of a nine days' scandal, 
nor does the clergyman come round to inquire the 
reason of her non-attendance. As in everything, so 
in the matter of religion, the German refuses to ac- 
cept the great maxim that you must always judge 
by appearances, and Frau Schmidt's neighbors 
would no more think of condemning her morality 
on the strength of her irregular churchgoing than 
they would think of questioning her position in 
society on the strength of her shabby and old-fash- 
ioned clothes. On the whole, the chief church- 
goers are servants, young girls, and old women. I 
strongly suspect the girls of going because they 
must, and the old women of going because it af- 
fords such an excellent opportunity to gossip before 
the service begins, but I may be doing both a glar- 
ing injustice, and will not insist upon the point. 



188 THE GERMANS 

Society women are rarely, if ever, seen, unless 
they come with the Court as a matter of duty. The 
truth is that the main reason which brings most so- 
ciety women to church does not exist in this part of 
the world. Nobody comes to show off their fine 
feathers. To go into a west-end church here is to 
receive an impression of dowdy respectability, and 
if Mrs. Jones with a bevy of friends in Sunday furs 
and furbelows were to sail magnificently down the 
aisle, I think they would cause something like a 
panic. In my mind's eye I can see a dozen heads 
wagged in doubt and alarm. "Das ist eine eigen- 
tumliche Gesellschaft!" the usual congregation 
would murmur at the bottom of its sober soul, 
thereby inferring that Mrs. Jones and her fashion- 
able party were distinctly "shady" characters. 
Thus the woman who lives for clothes — if she exists 
in Germany — finds no attraction in churchgoing, 
and the rest do just what they like, unbound by the 
mighty law of custom, and unthreatened by the ter- 
rors of parish and neighborly criticism. 

So much for the "Kirche" part of the adage, 
which — as I have said at the beginning of the chap- 
ter — I much suspect of having been added on be- 
cause it begins with "k" and harmonizes agreeably 
with "Kinder." The other two clauses require 



THE GERMAN WOMAN 189 

more serious consideration because they do still 
play a very important part in the German woman's 
life — a very important part, but by no means an 
exclusive one. All German girls are brought up 
with the idea that they will in all probability get 
married, or, at any rate, that it will be entirely their 
own fault if they do not. The average German is 
a decidedly family man, and is thankful if he can 
get a wife at all, so that a girl must be a pauper and 
a deformity combined not to be able to marry if 
she wants to. As a rule she still "wants," and, as a 
rule, she marries very early in life. It is quite 
usual for her to enter into society at seventeen and 
be married at eighteen, and a girl of twenty-five 
who has not yet settled down is looked upon in the 
light of a confirmed spinster. There was a time 
when her condition would have been regarded by 
her friends with pity and a mild disparagement — 
the unmarried woman was in fact a woman who 
had completely failed in her life's vocation — but, 
nowadays public opinion is beginning to turn. It is 
recognized by a certain party of both sexes that a 
woman can have another reason for her existence 
besides marriage, and that it can be an equally good 
reason. I know quite a number of girls who are 
studying for some profession, and who frankly ad- 



i9o THE GERMANS 

mit that their lives are so interesting, their work so 
absorbing, that they do not care whether they get 
married or not, and are entirely opposed to the 
idea of marriage as the goal of a woman's exist- 
ence. "If the right man comes, well and good 
— if not, I am perfectly satisfied as I am," is their 
verdict. 

These are the talented people, consequently in 
the minority, and the class of girl who, without 
talent, is yet striving for some market for her 
energy, is still too small to be reckoned with in 
Germany. Those who have no particular bent 
accept marriage as the one profession open to them. 
Thus German women can be divided into two 
groups — those who are blessed with talent and a 
profession, and those who have neither and marry. 
The latter, the majority, should be considered first, 
as it is to them that the adage, "Kinder, Kirche, und 
Kuche," is applied, and it is of them that the for- 
eigner immediately thinks when he is asked to de- 
scribe the German woman. I know so well the 
picture that arises before his mind's eye — a big, 
portly woman, very fat, very "comfortable," with 
red cheeks, fair hair — very badly done — and enough 
intelligence to look after the kitchen and keep the 
children in order. She is her husband's unpaid 



THE GERMAN WOMAN 191 

housekeeper, she sees to his dinner, mends his 
clothes, does up his boots even in the street (I have 
heard this statement made in all seriousness!), and 
generally does her best to pay for the honor he has 
done her in making her his wife. This picture re- 
minds me very much of the check-suited horror 
which I have already described as the type of Eng- 
lishman which the foreigner accepts as typical. 

It is not to be denied that the average German 
woman of the educated class is not a lovely or ele- 
gant person. In Karlsruhe, for instance, there are 
pretty children by the dozens, and the most beauti- 
ful old women I have ever seen, but a beautiful 
young woman is a rarity. The first involuntary 
question of an observant stranger is always, "Where 
do all the pretty children go to, and where do all 
the charming old ladies come from?" — a question 
not hard to answer. The children turn into women 
with good, even nobly cut features, exceptionally 
fine eyes, but — neglected complexions and neg- 
lected figures, faults which, in the prime of life, 
count for more than anything. Later on, the old 
lady appears with her fine features and eyes, and no 
one notices the defects which spoilt the woman. 

The German woman's unattractiveness is, there- 
fore, entirely her own fault. Her lack of smartness 



192 THE GERMANS 

in dress, and her indifference to physical culture, 
is in fact her curse. As regards dress, she is no- 
where very brilliant, and in Karlsruhe, where the 
"Fashion" is always so unfashionable that a fem- 
inine stranger must feel quite rejuvenated when she 
walks through the streets, she is positively dowdy. 
She seems born without any sort of taste where 
dress is concerned. Poverty can not excuse her; 
even when she has two respectable coats and skirts, 
she ruins both by wearing the coat of one with the 
skirt of another, and she is, moreover, capable of 
spending quite large sums on an atrocity which in 
England would stamp her at once as "impossible." 
It is only necessary to try to shop in Karlsruhe to 
understand the full enormity of the case. Suppose 
that a middle-class Englishwoman with moderate 
means wishes to buy herself a blouse. She can not 
afford to go to the very highest prices, and when 
she tries to obtain what she wants with moderate 
prices, she finds that she has no choice — unless it 
is a choice to have to decide between one form of 
ugliness and another. If she explains to the shop- 
man what she wants, he shrugs his shoulders re- 
gretfully: "We don't keep it — our customers don't 
care for it. But this is much prettier — every one is 
wearing it." And he produces an article which 



THE GERMAN WOMAN 193 

sends the Englishwoman away wondering how it is 
possible that a people so highly sensitive to beauty 
in all other forms can tolerate such eyesores in their 
every-day life. For the shopman is perfectly right. 
"It" is worn by everybody — that is to say, every- 
body of the middle class. Hideous plaid blouses, 
red, blue, and green, like traveling-rugs, muddy 
brown coats and skirts of vile cut, much-bebraided 
black sack coats, square-toed boots, nondescript 
hats which match every dress equally badly, highly 
colored kid gloves (when they are not cotton), in 
summer, cut-out blouses, shoes of the most atrocious 
colors under the sun, and last and worst of all — Re- 
form! 

What evil genius was it, I wonder, that hit 
on the German woman's besetting weakness, and 
discovered a mode of attire which gives it full play 
and encourages it with the excuse of "health," "hy- 
giene," and other nonsense of the same sort? To let 
herself go, to take things easy, to be as comfortable 
as possible — that is the questionable physical ideal 
toward which the German woman tends. Conse- 
quently, a dress cut like a sack, without collar, with- 
out waist, without shape, which she can slip in and 
out of with a minimum amount of exertion and 
trouble, appeals tremendously to her. She talks 



i 9 4 THE GERMANS 

a great deal about her health and so on, and grows 
stout, clumsy, pasty, sloppy, in fact everything that 
is the reverse of healthy. The health part of the 
matter has simply nothing to do with it. Reform, 
as it is called, is comfortable, and what does it mat- 
ter if, at the age, of thirty, you look like an old 
washerwoman, so long as you are comfortable? 

A lady artist once said that Reform was beautiful, 
Grecian, classic, and a good many other things be- 
sides, which I have not yet had the pleasure of ob- 
serving. I have only seen objects which were awful 
— I mean awful in the true sense of the word, awe- 
inspiringly terrible. That a woman can consent to 
make such an object of herself proves that as far as 
dress is concerned she is either totally indifferent or 
totally tasteless. In the German woman's case it is 
a little of both. She does not care very much what 
she looks like, and consequently she never tries to 
learn from other people, or to improve her taste. 
She is quite capable of spending her days in the 
same dress if it would only last out long enough. 
This brings me back to my first admission that she 
is far from smart, that she is in fact dowdy, and has 
never really been anything else at any time of her 
life. The German Backfisch — the equivalent to 
our bread-and-butter miss — is a lively, wide-awake 



THE GERMAN WOMAN 195 

young person who does indeed pay some attention 
to her appearance, but usually without the smallest 
success. Her mother has no taste, and so she 
has no taste, and after she is married and her 
business in society over, what little chic she 
ever had vanishes. She is then not exactly 
disorderly, everything about her — her home 
and children — is always scrupulously clean and 
neat, but one misses a certain delicacy, a certain 
feminine charm. In a word, she is an excellent 
painstaking housekeeper, but no artist in her home 
life; she has no eye for details or suitabilities. 
Everything is solid, good, and dull. 

On the other hand, I must defend her from the 
reputation of being no more than her husband's 
housekeeper — from an unwarrantable exaggera- 
tion of the "Kinder, Kirche, und Kuche," theory. A 
middle-class German woman certainly does mend 
her husband's clothes, and does look after the house 
and the children much more than an English- 
woman does. Very often she can not afford more 
than one servant, and, even when she rises to the 
magnificence of two, she is usually so accustomed 
to the routine that she can not give it up, and is al- 
ways interfering in the household — a course of con- 
duct to which, fortunately, most German servants 



196 THE GERMANS 

are hardened. But there is one point which must 
not be overlooked — she is her husband's companion 
and his helpmate, and she holds a commanding in- 
fluence in his life. She is not the submissive, wor- 
shipping and bullied slave of the fables. 

When the Empress Frederic came to Germany 
and announced her intention of raising and freeing 
German women, they rose en masse with the in- 
dignant protest that they had all the freedom and 
all the means to progress which they needed. Such 
is indeed the case — what the German woman is she 
is of her own free will, and she advances after her 
own fashion, winning quietly her position in the 
world by reason of her character and her education. 
For she is courageous, loyal, industrious, filled with 
the sense of her responsibilities, determined, and 
clear-headed. She is the woman to whom a man 
can turn in time of difficulty and trial with the 
knowledge that he will find in her a sturdy com- 
rade, ready to share every burden and sacrifice. 
She is a direct descendant of the women who, in 
the great days when Germany was struggling for 
her freedom, sold their wedding-rings and wore 
rings of iron in order that the Fatherland might not 
lack the means to carry on the conflict. She brings 
sacrifices to-day, though of another sort. 



THE GERMAN WOMAN 197 

The wife, whose officer husband attends court 
functions and associates in the highest society, cooks 
his dinner, nurses and dresses the children, goes 
without luxuries in order that he may represent his 
name and his position fittingly. She dresses shab- 
bily, he in the smartest uniforms; she restricts her- 
self to the smallest pleasures, while he lives a life 
of outward brilliancy. To all appearances she is 
an unpaid housekeeper, and yet — verily she hath 
her reward. She is really her husband's helpmate, 
and this, together with the trust and confidence that 
he gives her in return, is all the happiness she asks 
of life. She knows that he, too, has his hardships 
to bear, and she is proud that she can take her part 
in them — she has, in fact, won the right to share 
everything with him, both joy and sorrow. It is the 
same in every sphere. The wife, the daughter, the 
sister — they are all of the same caliber, and they 
bring willingly, and not because they must, sacri- 
fices to their name or their love, which seem almost 
overwhelming. And they are by no means merely 
passive victims of their own powers of self-abnega- 
tion. 

I know one woman whose husband is a pro- 
fessor of high reputation. In spite of the fact that 
they have three children and one servant, she man- 



198 THE GERMANS 

ages to find time to arrange his notes, correct his 
lectures, and help him with his instruments. She 
dresses disgracefully, and looks like a better-class 
servant, but she is an intelligent, highly educated 
woman, and her life is crowded with intellectual 
as well as domestic interest. She is an example 
taken out of a great class. On the one hand, she 
holds the home together; a devoted mother and 
wife, she leaves no particle of her home duties un- 
fulfilled; she neglects herself. Her life, seen by the 
Englishwoman, is full of sacrifice and hardship, 
but, on the other hand, she is intellectually keenly 
alive. She can — if she will — talk to you with un- 
derstanding on art, music, science, literature, even 
on politics, though the latter interest her as little 
as they interest her husband; she is well read, and 
is well up in all the social and economical questions 
of the day; she is, en fin, anything but a mere house- 
keeper. 

Nevertheless, though a great deal must be added 
on to the Kinder, Kirche, und Kiiche program in 
order to obtain a correct survey of the German 
woman's interests, the two first items are very se- 
rious topics in her ordinary conversation. In fact, 
wherever she goes and whatever she does, her 
household interests seem to cling to her. I remem- 



THE GERMAN WOMAN 199 

ber in a Lohengrin performance hearing one lady 
whisper to another: 

"Horen Sie mal, Gnadige Frau, was machen Sie 

mit Ihren Wurstzipfeln?" ("Tell me, Mrs. , 

what do you do with your sausage ends?") 

Now, I knew that the speaker was very musical, 
that there was not a tone in the opera which she did 
not know and appreciate, that the text and its full 
meaning was A, B, C to her, but her home and its 
absorbing problems recurred to her, and, carried 
off on the wings of impulse, she asked the vital ques- 
tion whose answer I was unfortunate enough to 
miss, thanks to "The Bridal Chorus." I believe, 
however, that in other countries besides Germany 
the matters of servants and cooking are not wholly 
tabooed subjects among ladies, so that it would be 
unwise to throw stones if the German Hausf rau sins 
considerably in this respect. At any rate, I can 
only say in her defense that she can talk on other 
matters if she chooses, and that her brains are far 
from idle. I can not pretend, however, that she is 
a very attractive woman. Her lack of vanity, her 
very unselfishness, devotion, and earnestness, are 
virtues which tend to make her ponderous, a little 
stodgy, though not insipid. She lacks the English- 
woman's savoir-vivre and the Frenchwoman's 



200 THE GERMANS 

lightness of touch, and though we can not shut our 
hearts against her sincerity and goodness, though 
we are forced to admire and even envy the sterling 
qualities to which her country owes so much, she 
leaves our enthusiasm limping. I suppose the es- 
sentially German qualities of thoroughness and 
Pflichtgefuhl are too massive for our ideas of fem- 
ininity. 

It would be unfair and also a serious error not 
to add that there is a subdivision of the domestic 
group which is attractive, and which has a charge 
entirely of its own. If you take a step upward on 
the social ladder, you may suddenly find yourself 
face to face with a type which will completely up- 
set all your previous ideas and theories. Among 
the aristocracy, and even among the old bourgeois 
families, there are women whose grace, dignity, 
and refinement are united to the sterling virtues of 
her less interesting sister, making of her a person- 
age whose equal it would be hard to find in any 
part of the world. I venture to place the present 
German Empress as a type of this class. Domesti- 
cated, devoted body and soul to her duty, self- 
effacing yet all-powerful, noble in bearing and in 
life, tactful and gracious, she is the German ideal 
of a woman, and in modified degrees one meets her 



THE GERMAN WOMAN 201 

everywhere in the circles of the upper classes. There 
the indifference to outward things is exchanged for 
a refinement of taste which never, as it does, alas, in 
other lands, degenerates into vulgar ostentation. 

I have never seen a German lady of position 
loudly dressed or overdressed, but I have seen her 
as elegant, as "vornehm," as any woman under the 
sun. I even dare assert that a German woman at 
her best is not to be rivaled. She has a certain 
strength, a certain grandness of bearing and char- 
acter, which more than atones for the lack of 
daintiness, chic, or whatever you like to call it, 
which distinguishes the woman of other lands. The 
high principles on which her life is built seem to 
find their expression in her face and carriage, and 
there is, added to this worth, the might of an un- 
equaled education. The reason why she is better 
educated than other women is a subject for another 
chapter — it is sufficient for the present to state the 
fact. 

Like the whole aristocracy, she carries the 
principle of noblesse oblige into her branch of life, 
and to know her is to admire her, to feel for her an 
ungrudging admiration and even reverence. But 
alas, she is not to be met on the streets. She leads, 
for the most part, an exclusive life of her own — not 



202 THE GERMANS 

a narrow life, for her interests are peculiarly wide 
— but socially she rarely moves out of her circle. 
So I suppose it is quite natural that a foreigner 
should shake his head over the woman he meets on 
his tour of inspection. The extraordinary mixtures 
of dowdy colors, the orderly disorder of their at- 
tire, the badly done hair, neglected figures, the Re- 
form — yes, I can understand and sympathize with 
his feelings. I can only comfort him with the hope 
that one day things will grow better, and that, in 
the meantime, if he gives himself the trouble to 
look for them, he will find charming as well as 
clever women hidden away in the sober-looking 
houses so difficult of access. 

There is now the other great division in the 
woman's world to be considered — the talented, 
professional girls and women, who are working 
either for their living or because work seems to 
them life's highest happiness. Their numbers are 
growing daily. Without sound, without commo- 
tion, the barriers which were held up against 
woman's entry into the professions have been over- 
thrown. The first heroic woman's battle in the 
universities, her firm defiance of the insults, irrita- 
tions, and unfairness of the students and professors, 
who did not scruple to destroy her work or grossly 



THE GERMAN WOMAN 203 

underestimate its value, has cleared the road for 
hundreds of others who are pressing eagerly for- 
ward. 

It is estimated, for instance, that there are 
seventy women doctors in Germany, and that they 
have more to do than they can manage, and in this 
profession as in many others the demand is rapidly 
increasing. Women doctors, scientists, dentists, 
writers, painters, musicians, lecturers, gardeners, 
farmers — they are all on the march, and though the 
struggle against prejudice and envy may be hard, 
the ultimate victory is sure. It is all the surer be- 
cause there is nothing hysterical or violent in the 
German woman's advance. She is overcoming her 
enemies, not by stone-throwing and assault, but by 
the force of her real value, character, and attain- 
ments. You can suppress rowdyism and noise, but 
you can not suppress ability, and the German 
woman student has proved herself more than able 
to fill the posts which she covets. She may not be 
outwardly very attractive — the pioneers of a great 
movement are usually unattractive, the struggle ab- 
sorbs too much of their energy — but she is bril- 
liantly clever, hard working, thorough, and blessed 
with an indomitable purpose. If the political 
progress seems slow in English eyes, it is because it 



204 THE GERMANS 

is less noisy and also because politics plays a com- 
paratively small part in German life. 

"I can not understand the feverish interest you 
take in the elections," a German lady said to me, 
the other day. "I confess that politics bore me to 
extinction, and I fancy they bore most Germans 
except those actually engaged in the fray." And 
she was one of the emancipated — one of the women 
workers! Still, in spite of this indifference, I have 
heard well-informed men declare that the German 
woman's vote is not far off — one even asserted 
boldly that it lay nearer in the future than the Eng- 
lish woman's, because she had not alienated the 
sympathy of moderate people by her extreme con- 
duct. I do not profess to know how much truth 
there is in these optimistic prophecies, or in how far 
they are really optimistic, but of one thing I am 
sure — that mentally she is as well prepared as any 
other woman in the world for the new burden, and 
that she will endeavor to do her duty faithfully. 



CHAPTER XI 

SPORTING MATTERS 

"HALF-PAST four on a dreary January morning, a 
drizzling rain, a dank, chilly atmosphere— surely 
not very promising conditions for a day's sport 
amidst snow and ice!" 

This was the grumbled verdict of the English 
friend when I aroused her from her cruelly cur- 
tailed slumbers to accompany me on a long- 
planned expedition into the Black Forest. Myself 
too sleepy to expostulate, and through want of ex- 
perience a little shaken in my hopes by the gloomy 
outlook, I merely pointed to my German friend, 
who was going about her preparations with calm 
cheerfulness. 

"Everybody will think us mad parading through 
the mud with tobogganoes !" said English Ig- 
norance, decidedly grumpy. 

"Wait and see!" retorted German Wisdom, go- 
ing on with her breakfast. 

Coffee and rolls— even if the latter remind one 
205 



206 THE GERMANS 

somewhat of yesterday — are great magicians, and 
at half-past five our party, enlarged by outside con- 
tingents, was on its way down the silent streets in 
the best of spirits, dragging behind a veritable 
army of bumping, very out-of-place-looking to- 
bogganoes. There is a decided charm in getting 
up and going out at unearthly hours — occasionally. 
It is a cause of real moral elevation to look at the 
blank lightless windows, and know that behind the 
shutters lazy folk are still dreaming, while you are 
awake and active. You have an overweening con- 
tempt for such people, and a strong desire to spoil 
their slumbers by creating as much noise as pos- 
sible. In fact, we felt ourselves the heroes of 
Karlsruhe until we reached the station, where our 
self-satisfaction was not a little dampened by the 
discovery that we were only a few among many. 
Stout German ladies, whom you could hardly 
imagine taking a moderate walk, in short skirts, 
thick boots, and pert Alpine caps; young girls, old 
men, young men, all in correct sporting attire, 
crowded round the booking-office, and English 
Ignorance rubbed its eyes. 

"Am I really in Germany, or am I dreaming?" 
she inquired dazedly. 

"If you are dreaming, please wake up, or we 



SPORTING MATTERS 207 

shall miss the train!" retorted German Wisdom, 
taking third-class tickets. 

German third-class carriages are uncushioned 
horrors which we usually scorn, but it is part of the 
sport to be as uncomfortable as possible, and as 
none of our companions seemed to think of second- 
class luxuries we followed meekly into the glorified 
cattle-trucks set at our disposal. Fortunately we 
were a sufficiently large party to obtain a compart- 
ment all to ourselves. I say "fortunately," for by 
this time we were all thoroughly awake, and our 
spirits had risen to a degree which, together with 
our suspiciously new-looking tobogganoes, must 
have betrayed to the other calm and sober travelers 
that this excursion was something new too, that we 
were, in fact, far from being veterans. After an 
hour in the "Bummelzug," which stopped at every 
station to pick up fresh parties, we arrived at a 
junction, where we were turned out and transferred 
into a little mountain railway. We had already 
climbed a few hundred feet upward, and a thin 
covering of snow shimmered hopefully beneath the 
station lights. 

"I trust there will be more than that where we 
are going to!" said English Ignorance, to which re- 
mark German Wisdom deigned no answer. 



208 THE GERMANS 

It was a decidedly dirty and smelly little moun- 
tain train, but it performed wonders, transporting 
us out of the land of gloom and slush into a land of 
fairy-like and spotless beauty. Thick snow lay on 
the ground as we descended from our murky com- 
partment, and the dawn breaking through the gray 
mists revealed great fir-covered mountains, silent 
and awe-inspiring in their unsullied magnificence. 
English Ignorance collapsed into speechless ad- 
miration as the sleigh glided along the winding 
road, the bells ringing out on to the crisp stillness, 
the horses' hoofs muffled to a soft, almost inaudible, 
thud. German Wisdom developed a certain par- 
donable amount of pride. 

"You haven't anything like this in England, have 
you, now?" 

And English Ignorance, usually exceedingly ar- 
rogant, meekly admitted that this world which a 
short train journey had revealed was something as 
new as it was wonderful. 

Always higher, through picturesque villages, 
past lonely huts, ever deeper into the white forest! 
The snow lay piled up six feet deep on either side, 
the mighty fir-trees hung their branches patiently 
beneath their burden, their little sisters lying at 
their feet, almost completely buried or peering out 




Wood-carvers at work in a shop at Hornberg, in the Black Forest 



SPORTING MATTERS 209 

like quaint-shaped gnomes; long icicles hung from 
the rocks, over which, when the spring comes, the 
torrents will pour tumultuously down into the val- 
ley. A dead hush rested on the whole white world, 
only broken by the jingling of our bells as, like 
rude intruders, we passed on our way among the 
countless sleeping giants. The sky was still gray, 
and here and there as the road curved we plunged 
into thick banks of mist which obscured the valley 
already far beneath, but at last, as the Ruhenstein 
Hotel hove in sight, the watching German eyes 
descried the first blue rift, and a few moments later 
the whole scene had changed. The mists parted, a 
brilliant sky threw into more perfect relief the un- 
spotted whiteness of this suddenly revealed fairy- 
land. 

We no longer walked on snow, we walked on 
diamonds, which flashed their tiny reflections back 
at the warm sunshine, the hanging icicles became 
glittering streaks of light, the whole peaceful 
lovely world shimmered in dazzling splendor. 
English Ignorance, open-mouthed, blissfully over- 
whelmed, stood on the doorstep of the hotel — a 
simple Black Forest Gasthaus — and scorned the 
thought of dinner. Fortunately German Wisdom 
prevailed, and having made a scanty toilet — it is 



210 THE GERMANS 

not sporting to be too immaculate — we found our- 
selves at a long table with half a dozen other guests 
enjoying the country fare. As yet the hotel was 
practically empty, for the chief guests were ex- 
pected later on in the day. These came to stay for 
three or four nights in order to take part in the 
Ski-Kursus, paying for their board and instruction 
the large sum of four marks per diem. 

Not so fortunate — the one hundred and forty 
beds were already taken — we had to make the most 
of our time, and the meal over, we hurried out 
and began our sporting experiments. Nothing 
venture, nothing win! Emboldened by a success- 
ful flight down the toboggan run, we borrowed the 
necessary skis and started on the beginner's slope — 
after a certain amount of nervous preliminaries, for 
the first effort is like a leap into an unknown 
eternity. An instant's magnificent perpendicular 
amidst ironical "ohs" and "ahs" of admiration 
from German Wisdom, a sudden lurch, and the 
glory was at an end! I finished the career in a 
curious sitting posture, which I believe is unattain- 
able even by the most proficient ski-runners. So 
much was tolerable, but, alas! the home-road had 
to be faced. One agonized step forward, an en- 
tirely unwished-for slide backwards, which flung 



SPORTING MATTERS 211 

me forward with a painful wrench at the ankles, a 
desperate plunge, volumes of advice from German 
Wisdom convulsed with laughter at the top of the 
bank. 

"Why don't you dig your feet in sidewise? Keep 
your knees together! You'll be up soon!" 

A second German Wisdom on skis offered to 
come down and help me, to which I retorted, I 
fear, without the necessary politeness. I have found 
there is nothing which can make a human being so 
furious as trying to get up a steep slope on a pair of 
skis, especially for the first time, and on that ac- 
count I trust my abruptness was forgiven. At last I 
reached the top, thanks to the discovery that by 
sitting down and bumping yourself along with 
your hands you can attain a speed of something 
like a yard every five minutes. My hat over one 
ear, covered in snow, distinctly heated, in every 
sense of the word, I had then to listen to German 
Wisdom's observations. 

"You have no idea how funny you looked! It 
was quite the most ridiculous sight I have ever seen. 
Do go down again! Don't you like it immensely?" 

German Wisdom II offered me thereupon a little 
instructive pamphlet, from which I learned that 
the chief thing is not to fall down. 



212 THE GERMANS 

"I shall try again in a minute," I said, with dig- 
nity. "Only give me time!" 

I then looked about me, while German Wisdom 
sailed away gracefully and with the most irritating 
ease. It was altogether rather trying for poor Eng- 
lish Arrogance, accustomed to excel in all matters 
sporting, to see the much-despised German people, 
who are no good at tennis or foot-ball, and have no 
understanding for cricket, performing the most 
wonderful feats on the unmanageable slender 
planks. It was insult to injury when a stout matron 
clambered calmly and without effort up the slope 
which had brought English Arrogance to so hu- 
miliating a fall, when, in fact, everybody could per- 
form what seemed an impossibility. I tried again, 
I tried until tea-time, when the first shadows of 
evening began to creep over the snow, and I, wet 
through and weary but by no means conquered, re- 
turned my skis to the rightful owner. 

"If you come every week for a year or two you 
might be able to manage quite nicely," he said 
condescendingly. "The great thing is not to fall 
down." 

German Wisdom offered consolation. 

"We will toboggan together back to the valley," 
she said. "Then you will know what it is to live." 



SPORTING MATTERS 213 

No sooner suggested than weariness fled. The 
others packed themselves into the waiting sleigh, 
but we dragged our toboggano to the top of the 
ski-path, and with German Wisdom at the helm 
began the descent. It had taken us two hours to 
climb the mountain — we reached the village in a 
quarter of an hour. I do not know how fast we 
went or indeed what happened. I was only con- 
scious of flying through the crisp, keen air, swerv- 
ing round sharp corners, past ski-laufers on their 
way up to the hotel, into gray mists with the flakes 
of snow flying in our faces, out on to the highroad, 
and still on till the village and an uncomfortable 
grating told us that it was all over. A wonderful, 
never-to-be-forgotten quarter of an hour! Regret- 
fully we walked back to meet the sleigh, and hitch- 
ing it on behind allowed ourselves to be bumped 
through the thin snow to the station. Down in the 
valley a thaw had set in, and long before we 
reached the destination our ride had become dis- 
tinctly unpleasant, but on such occasions the un- 
pleasant counts for nothing against the pleasures 
which one has had in such generous quantities. 

Not even the train journey, not even the aching 
limbs and soaking clothes could reduce our spirits 
or mar our recollections. We had been sixteen 



2i4 THE GERMANS 

hours en route, and were proud of our energy and 
endurance. It was this pride which led me to con- 
sider the four Germans who belonged to our party 
in a new and more respectful light. None of them 
could play tennis or hockey or cricket — I had re- 
garded them hitherto as utterly unsporting people 
— but they had borne the fatigue better than I had 
done, and they had certainly understood a form of 
sport which required as much energy and skill as 
any of my favorite games. I could no longer say 
that they were "unsporting," and yet — Consider- 
ably puzzled, with all my pet theories thrown into 
confusion, as is the fate of most theories, I turned 
to German Wisdom for a solution. 

"We like sport," she explained pertinently, "but 
we do not care for games." 

Voila! You have the whole German attitude in 
a nutshell. This simple statement explains, for in- 
stance, why most young people do not care in the 
least for tennis — or, at any rate, only pretend to. It 
is true that in Karlsruhe there are dozens of tennis- 
courts, all in possession of the various tennis- 
Kranzchen, but they are simply means to an end. 
Out of ten, perhaps one player has an idea of the 
game — the rest play anyhow, and in any attire — 
most probably in their every-day clothes — and the 



SPORTING MATTERS 215 

tennis-racquet is no more than an excuse, a sort of 
unobtrusive chaperon who allows Hans to accom- 
pany Gretel home through the wood without any- 
body's sense of decorum being mortally wounded. 
It is true, also, that there are numberless clubs 
where a good player is occasionally to be found, 
but the latter is an exception, and in six years I 
have only met one girl who could play averagely 
well, and she was from Baden-Baden! In the latter 
town, indeed everywhere where the foreign ele- 
ment is largely represented, the so-called sporting 
people are more plentiful. The German is a clever 
parrot in such matters, and very quick to pick up 
foreign ways and customs — perhaps too quick. 

Hence in North Germany and in all watering- 
places it is possible to obtain first-class tennis — in 
fact our champions will very soon have to look to 
their laurels in this respect — but in ordinary towns 
and among genuine Germans the love for tennis 
and all such forms of physical amusement is arti- 
ficial in the extreme. They play because it is the 
fashion, and, above all, because it is an excuse for 
coming together. Other games, such as hockey and 
foot-ball, are altogether tabooed by the better classes 
as violent and brutal. There are three foot-ball 
clubs in Karlsruhe, two of which have well-trained 



216 THE GERMANS 

and capable teams, but they are made up of men 
from the lower ranks, and the crowd which pours 
out on Sunday to watch the matches consists of 
shop-keepers, small officials, clerks, and so on. 

In vain royalty has bestowed its patronage on 
every form of sport; in vain the commanders of 
cadet schools, the principals of colleges, have en- 
deavored by persuasion and force to bring the Ger- 
man youth to play foot-ball and cricket. Do what 
they will, they can only obtain a reluctant obedi- 
ence, and as soon as the compulsion is at an end the 
German flings both games aside, together with other 
equally objectionable school duties. In the girls' 
schools it is the same. Tennis is played after a 
fashion., but that is the only concession which the 
most sporting and determined English governess 
can obtain from her pupils. In after life they keep 
up this one game, but nothing short of violence will 
get them to indulge in hockey, let alone cricket, 
which latter everybody thinks extremely dull. Dur- 
ing the present winter an heroic and international 
person tried to get up a ladies' hockey-club, and 
actually succeeded in wheedling five German and 
six English ladies to help in the attempt. The Ger- 
mans paid their subscriptions, came once, and — 
never came again. As a team can not exist on six 



SPORTING MATTERS 217 

members, the English party also dropped away, 
and the effort had to be abandoned. 

The aristocracy, who set the fashion in such 
matters, take very small part in sport beyond racing 
and hunting. In North Germany there is a certain 
amount of polo, and a select circle goes in for ten- 
nis in style, but it is only a select circle. The mass 
remain either entirely indifferent or pick up a rudi- 
mentary idea of that one recognized game, because 
it is a social convenience. The consequences are, 
naturally, far from brilliant, and sometimes absurd. 
No doubt matters have improved. When I first 
came here, for instance, the officers played bat and 
ball — so-called tennis — in their uniforms, and it 
was quite usual for a civilian to run about a court 
in a tweed suit and a bowler hat. This year I have 
noticed a striking predominance of flannels, and a 
gratifying attempt at style. But the fatal fact still 
remains, that the real love of the thing, the need of 
it, does not exist. Perhaps it is just as well. Chacun 
a son gout and the German has no real need for 
sport, or at any rate our form of sport. Whatever 
educational or physical disadvantages his indiffer- 
ence to games might entail is atoned for by gym- 
nastics, his military service, and the form of sport 
which he enjoys. The German is devoted to all 



218 THE GERMANS 

kinds of exercise which are in direct connection 
with nature, with outdoor life. The man who sees 
no pleasure in being cooped up in a tennis-court or 
in a foot-ball field will travel miles on skis through 
the forests, skate every free minute of his day, and 
in the heat of the summer undertake long walking 
01 mountaineering tours. In this respect one must 
not judge by the specimens to be met with in fash- 
ionable hotels in the height of the season. There 
are lazy Germans as there are lazy people of all 
nations, and the energetic Teuton does not frequent 
fashionable hotels. He chooses out less-known 
places, and "roughs it" to his heart's content. 

At his own particular sports the German is a 
first-class man, and even the German woman, who 
seems at first sight a hopeless case, can develop an 
energy which is simply astonishing. Every German 
girl can skate well, most are good swimmers and 
walkers, and proficient in winter sports. Many of 
my girl acquaintances, for instance, whose tennis 
has reduced me to pity and distraction, spend three 
or four weeks of the winter in the Black Forest 
ski-ing or tobogganing. They then show a common 
sense, a sporting spirit, which seems to desert them 
the moment they touch an imported game. They 
dress correctly and sensibly, either in short skirts or 



SPORTING MATTERS 219 

even in knickerbockers and jerseys ; they take part 
in the races, often make remarkable records, and 
display at all times a nerve and endurance alto- 
gether bewildering for those who have only seen 
them in their town life. It is only when you ask 
them to play games that they fail — chiefly, I think, 
because they do not want to succeed. 

This point reveals an interesting trait in the Ger- 
man character — a lack of competitiveness, an indif- 
ference to a success whose only value is the defeat of 
some one else. In school a boy works hard, not for 
the prize — as a rule there is none — or because he 
wants to do better than a comrade, but because he 
sees a distinct personal value in knowledge — he 
learns, in fact, for learning's sake. In after life he 
conducts his business on the same principle. He 
works tenaciously because work is his life, and be- 
cause he sees its distinct utility, but he is not in- 
spired by a genuine competitive instinct. If he 
does better than other people, it is simply the result 
of a natural law which makes it impossible for 
everybody to do equally well — his success, there- 
fore, gives him no particular satisfaction. His at- 
titude toward sport is quite in keeping. 

"And suppose I do run myself hot and tired over 
a ridiculous patch of ground after a ridiculous ball, 



220 THE GERMANS 

and suppose I do win a game, what good will it do 
me?" he asks. 

"You will have had splendid exercise," says the 
Englishman. 

"Yes ; but if I want exercise I would rather go 
for a walk through the forest or make a bicycling 
tour. Then I should perhaps learn something at 
the same time — at any rate, I should be enjoying 
nature." 

"But then there would be no game!" retorts the 
Englishman. 

"No game? What is the good of a game? Am I 
wiser or better if I beat you at tennis?" 

"No, but the fun of it—" 

"I don't see any fun in beating somebody at 
something which has no value. That is childish and 
a waste of time." 

A German military hunt is another instance of 
this characteristic dislike for or indifference to 
competition in any form. There are no foxes in 
this part of the world, so a make-believe quarry in 
the shape of a soldier on horseback dragging a 
piece of raw meat behind him is substituted. The 
hunt is usually conducted over hedges and ditches 
of considerable difficulty, but no one cares in the 
least who gets in at the "kill," and the pace set by 



SPORTING MATTERS 221 

the Master is usually decidedly "gemiitlich." The 
fact is that the mere catching of the "fox" has no in- 
terest for the hunters, who have simply come for 
the riding's sake, and consequently take matters 
most calmly. On the other hand, any form of sport 
which is in direct connection with his work excites 
the officer to instant enthusiasm. At the yearly 
Campagne Reiten — an exhibition of horsemanship 
for all the different cavalry regiments in the Baden 
Army Corps — I have witnessed some really bril- 
liant riding, and have been struck by the unusual 
interest and enthusiasm displayed. Each man is 
then strung up to his best, and the beautiful horses, 
the slight elastic figures in the gay uniforms, the 
daring feats down breakneck sand-banks and over 
impossible-looking water-jumps, form a picture of 
always fresh attraction. In this case there are 
prizes, but I do not fancy that they are the spurs 
which urge every competitor to his greatest efforts. 
They seem to be regarded as matters of compar- 
atively little account compared to the standard of 
excellence which the winners have attained. 

Each man does his best because it is essential for 
him, as a soldier, to prove his proficiency, not for 
the prize and not 'for the gratification of doing bet- 
ter than a comrade. It may be that they cared more 



222 THE GERMANS 

for their silver cups than they showed, but that was 
the impression I received. In sport, as in everything, 
there are, of course, exceptions. There is the cup- 
hunter, and the man who, when he loses a game, 
loses his temper with it. He exists in Germany, but 
in small numbers, and the latter type is rarest of 
all. As a rule the German is too indifferent to 
care whether he wins or not, and only gets annoyed 
when too sharply criticized by his partner. It is 
not wise to tell your German partner in a tennis 
tournament that he is not playing well, or in any 
way show your annoyance at his performance. As 
I have said before, he is very sensitive, and the 
criticism will wound him deeply and reduce his 
skill to vanishing point. On the other hand, a little 
praise — however unmerited — will encourage him 
to the finest efforts, and he will repay you by an ad- 
miration for prowess and a consideration for your 
blunders which is quite sincere, since it is the ex- 
pression of his genuine gratitude. 

I might mention in conclusion the absolute in- 
difference of young Germany to all card games. 
Even the officers, who, in their long evenings to- 
gether, are often hard put to it to find a new form 
of amusement, remain very phlegmatic devotees. 
I knew one young lieutenant — he had an English 



SPORTING MATTERS 223 

mother, which perhaps accounted for his tastes — 
who was passionately fond of bridge, but in spite of 
all his efforts he could get no one to play with him. 
Out of sheer pity we used to arrange bridge even- 
ings for him, and his joy was quite pathetic. 

"They all hate it," he used to complain bitterly; 
"and most of them won't even try to learn." 

As a matter of fact, only thorough-paced gam- 
blers and old people play cards in Germany. The 
latter have nothing else to occupy them, and on that 
account are excused, but the sight of a party of 
young girls and men sitting down to an evening's 
bridge would reduce a pure-blooded German to a 
state of grave bewilderment. He would not be 
particularly shocked. He would simply ask, "Why 
do they do it? Why do they like it? That is an 
occupation for those who have not the strength to 
do anything else." 

It is not, as I have said before, that the Germans 
can not play — they do not want to. My German 
friend, for instance, is a first-class bridge player, 
having picked it up in England with remarkable 
rapidity, but only when driven by sheer good-na- 
ture will she consent to take a hand. Other Ger- 
mans simply refuse to learn. 

"I will do anything else you like," one said to 



224 THE GERMANS 

me, on my having offered myself as an obliging 
instructor in a selection of English games. "I will 
read and talk French within the house; I will go 
out riding, sketching, touring, skating with you 
when the weather permits, but my life is too short 
to waste it on games." 

Her one exception is chess, which as a game of 
pure intellect is "allowed," and appreciated by 
most Germans. For the rest, her attitude toward 
the usual English indoor and outdoor amusements 
is typical. It misleads the Englishman to the idea 
that the German is physically idle and wholly un- 
sporting — which is not really the case. "Sport, 
but not games!" is their motto, and perhaps they 
are not so far wrong after all. They are, at any rate, 
saved from the dangerous exaggeration which is 
threatening English athletics, and, indeed, English 
progress. 



CHAPTER XII 

MANNERS MAKETH MAN 

"If you are in England and are in any difficulty as 
regards etiquette, there is one rule to which you can 
always trust," a German lady once remarked to me : 
"Do just the opposite to what you would do in any 
other civilized country, and you are bound to do 
right." 

I thought this statement over, and confessed that 
it was not unfounded. I admitted that, as in meas- 
ures, money, and laws, so in manners, we have al- 
ways been the exceptions; but I hastened to add, 
with true English modesty, that if she considered 
the matter she would find that our exceptions were 
usually wise and proper ones. 

"You are like the mother of a recruit who came 
home from a parade and told her friends that her 
son was the only man in the regiment who had been 
in step!" she retorted crushingly. "Exceptional 
ideas and methods are by no means always right, 
and are very often merely the obstinate endeavors 
225 



226 THE GERMANS 

of people who are trying to be original," I pro- 
tested, and she thereupon went on with some heat 
— it was evident that she had had some unpleasant 
experiences in England. 

"No one would object to your having your own 
ways of doing things, if only you would not insist 
that they were the only right ones. You are per- 
fectly at liberty to eat as you like, bow as you like, 
visit as you like, but please don't measure us by 
your standards, which we do not even recognize as 
standards." 

No doubt there was some justice in her indignant 
protest. English people have their own particular 
ways, and they have, in addition, the fond belief 
that they are the providentially appointed cri- 
terions in all matters whatsoever, but more espe- 
cially in the matter of manners, and that therefore 
anybody who transgresses against their code is of 
necessity mannerless. The German is more just 
and less arrogant. 

"If I went to England everybody would believe 
that I was ill-bred because I do not put my knife 
and fork together as you do," one old gentleman 
said to me; "but you will observe that I do not say 
that your men are ill-mannered when they go into 
a shop with their hats on, ignore my greeting at a 



MANNERS MAKETH MAN 227 

hotel table d'hote, shake my wife's hand pump- 
handle fashion, with possibly the other hand in 
their pocket, and lift their hat a fourth of an inch 
when they meet her on the street. If they were 
Germans, I should say that they were not gentle- 
men; but since they are English, I say to myself 
that they have other ways, and withhold all criti- 
cism. But you English only recognize one very 
arbitrary standard of your own." 

Here, again, I think there was some truth in the 
accusation. Certain it is that after a prolonged 
sojourn among the German people, one discovers 
that though they do not conform to our ways they 
have a code of their own whose strictness often 
makes the English fashion appear somewhat slov- 
enly and disrespectful. Yet it is extraordinary how 
narrow-minded people can be on this subject. I 
know an English lady who still insists on it that 
Germans are rude because the men bow first, be- 
cause the new-comer has to call first, because they 
have other and less stringent table manners. It is 
vain to argue with such people that the laws we 
have made on this point are purely arbitrary, and 
that there is no real reason why one way of arrang- 
ing one's knife and fork is better than another. 
They hold to it that Germans are "disgusting," and 



228 THE GERMANS 

look the other way when they see an Englishman 
bolting his food like a starved wolf. In truth, as 
soon as the traveler has cleared his mind of his 
national prejudices, he must recognize the fact that 
he is no better than his German cousin, and that in 
certain points he has even something to learn. 

Of course, it is largely a matter of taste, and to sit 
between an Englishman and a German and listen 
to their opinions on the subject of manners, is like 
sitting between the Irresistible and the Immovable 
and being badly jolted in the process. The Eng- 
lishman thinks it ridiculous when the German 
sweeps his hat off to the ground to a masculine ac- 
quaintance, kisses a lady's hand, bows deeply with 
his heels clapped firmly together, shakes hands 
after dinner. "Did you ever see anything so stiff 
and absurd?" he asks you. On the other side, the 
German, though he makes generous allowances for 
custom, finds the English manner far too abrupt 
and casual. His criticism is especially directed 
against the Englishman, and augments in severity 
according to his own social position. "The higher 
the birth the more ceremonious the manners," is a 
safe rule to judge by. The aristocrat clings ten- 
aciously to the old forms, whereas in other classes, 
and, above all, among the merchant and business 



MANNERS MAKETH MAN 229 

people, there is a tendency to pick up English ways 
and to throw off what they call the ridiculous old 
"Zopfe." 

Perhaps they are ridiculous for unaccus- 
tomed eyes, but when they are left out one misses 
them, and a German who comes up and shakes 
hands with me with English freedom always gives 
me a shock. It is not that I dislike the English 
freedom, but when a German imitates it he loses 
something of his individuality. The average Ger- 
man, just as he is a poetic dreamer in spite of his 
practical abilities, has still among his up-to-date 
notions a little of the old-world chivalry, which 
one cherishes greatly as the remnants from a more 
romantic age. Between that age and the present 
the aristocrat forms the connecting link. He has 
been brought up on the great past; his ancestors, 
his old name, have been held constantly before him, 
and their influence extends over his whole life, 
making of his ideas and of his manners a curious 
mixture of the modern and of the old-fashioned. 
Moreover, he is brought up in a severe school. 
From his childish days he has been taught to stand 
in his father's presence, to kiss his mother's hand, 
to treat her and all women with an unfailing, if 
somewhat formal courtesy. He is usually kept at 



2 3 o THE GERMANS 

home until the later years of his boyhood, and so 
has no opportunity to develop the rough-and-tum- 
ble manners of the public school-boy. This home 
life accounts to a great extent for the ease and self- 
possession with which the average German youth 
carries himself through a social function. He does 
not stumble over his own feet, choke over his tea, 
stammer when he speaks, or — what is worse — main- 
tain a sulky silence. He is courteous, simple, and 
natural, without being priggish or unboyish. 

I think this lack of self-consciousness must be a 
part of the German character, for even boys who 
have been brought up away from home, and who 
scarcely see a woman from year's end to year's end, 
display a natural savoir-faire on unusual occasions 
which is surprising. Thus I have a pleasant rec- 
ollection of an evening spent at the Cadet school 
here, where a dance was being given in honor of 
the Emperor's birthday. There were one hundred 
and fifty cadets present of all sizes and of all ages, 
from absurd little mites of ten years old to tall 
young fellows of fifteen and thereabouts, who were 
preparing to go up to Grosslichterfelde for their 
concluding years. I knew something of their life, 
and knew that it was a strenuous Spartan existence, 
in which polish and refinement might all too easily 



MANNERS MAKETH MAN 231 

be forgotten; but from the mite of ten, who, with 
a profound bow, engaged me for a waltz and swept 
me off — perhaps, more correctly, was swept off — 
with great pride, to the eldest cadet, who never 
allowed the conversation to flag an instant, they all 
behaved with the ease of complete self-forgetful- 
ness. They were sincerely glad to dance with you, 
sincerely grateful that you had come, sincerely 
anxious to please. There was no affectation or con- 
ceit about them; their conversation was all that a 
boy's should be — a vivid description of a rat-hunt 
remains in my memory — and behind their courtly 
manners, their little formalities, there was a heart 
politeness, a simplicity of character, which took 
away all stiffness from the formality and made 
it a living courtesy. I hereby admit, without more 
ado, that I find German manners charming. 

Perhaps I am accustomed to them, perhaps I 
have grown to understand the character which is 
their source. I like the courteous greeting which 
strangers exchange when chance brings them to- 
gether. No matter whether you meet a German in 
a railway carriage, in a consulting-room, or at a 
table d'hote, he will always greet you, and there is 
something in this recognition of your existence, in 
this tacit acknowledgment that you are a human be- 



232 THE GERMANS 

ing like himself, which gives the "Universal Bro- 
therhood of Man" a touch of reality. These little 
touches, these little formalities — peculiar, I must 
observe, to the South German — are the more pleas- 
ing because they are the sincere expression of a sin- 
cere feeling. One has to learn to believe in this 
sincerity. When I first came to Germany I thought 
the courtly attention which men showed to women, 
the hand-kissing, bowing, and so on, a hollow 
mockery, a kind of sweetmeat offered instead of a 
genuine respect, but since then I have learned to 
think differently. The German has not only been 
taught the outer courtesies, but he has been born 
with a kindness of heart and instinctive considera- 
tion for others which makes them of real value. 
The man who appears to have a fund of "small 
change" and valueless attentions, is the same man 
who will go miles out of his way for you to-mor- 
row. 

English people are so accustomed to look upon 
a certain brusquerie as a sign of sincerity, and 
a high degree of polish as a sign of humbug, that it 
is very difficult, even after many years, to get ac- 
customed to the German fashion. Only a few 
weeks ago I was traveling in the same tram with a 
young lieutenant, whose smooth and graceful man- 



MANNERS MAKETH MAN 233 

ners had more than once aroused suspicion in my 
English soul. He was got up in his newest and 
finest uniform — we were both on our way to a mili- 
tary funeral, I remember — he had on spotless white 
kid gloves, an eye-glass thrust in his eye ; he looked, 
in fact, the veriest dandy, who would not have 
soiled himself to save a life. The tram was very 
full, and presently an old peasant fellow came in 
with his basket of vegetables and looked about 
helplessly, treading on everybody's toes in the 
meantime. I looked on my military acquaintance 
and waited for the storm. The dandy rose, saluted 
gravely, offered the old peasant his seat, and went 
and stood outside. If there is anything in thought 
telegraphy, that young officer must have heard me 
apologizing to him all the rest of our journey to- 
gether. This is only one example of the many 
which I will not cite, for fear of being unneces- 
sarily tiresome. I only assert that you can enjoy 
German courtesy with an easy mind — it is genuine. 
Hitherto I have spoken chiefly of the aristocratic 
classes; the bourgeois is not less courteous, he is 
only a shade less polished. Being bound by no 
tradition, his manners vary with every family. 
Some are inclined to be too "devot," too persistent 
with their bob-curtsies and hand-kissing, others too 



234 THE GERMANS 

negligent, but one feature is common to them all, 
and indeed to all Germans — the respect and defer- 
ence with which older people are treated. It is 
one of the most pleasing features of German life. 

Although from what I have seen I believe the 
relations between parents and children to be far 
smoother in Germany than in England, one hears 
nothing of the careless and sometimes disrespectful 
conduct which shocks the German on his visit to 
my country. German people know that intimacy 
breeds contempt, and that from the moment out- 
ward courtesies and attentions are neglected all true 
respect is at an end r and they take care, therefore, 
that courtesy shall be an indispensable ingredient 
in their children's attitude toward themselves and 
others. Thus a German girl in the presence of her 
elder is nevei clumsy, rude, or abrupt. She is al- 
ways at hand with some little attention or kindness, 
and though one may laugh at her "Knix," one can 
not but admire the education which has taught her 
so much respect and consideration for others. 

Fortunately, it is not all education. If you go 
among the lower classes you will find the same 
good-nature, the same willingness to oblige, the 
same refinement of feeling, which is the root of all 
German politeness. No South German peasant will 



MANNERS MAKETH MAN 235 

pass you on the road without his "Tag!" or "Griiss 
Gott!" and here again the ceremonial covers a gen- 
uine friendliness. It has been more than once my 
fate during long bicycling tours to find myself 
stranded on the wayside with a punctured tire or a 
damaged gear-case, and on each occasion a laborer 
has left his work and planted himself down to the 
repair with an energy and patience which atoned 
for all lack of skill. One young yokel even rode to 
the neighboring town to buy a new inner tire for 
me, and as the latter had exhausted my funds I 
could offer him nothing for a reward but my prom- 
ise that if he would give me his address he would 
hear of "something to his advantage." He shook 
his head with cheery good-nature. 

"Ach, was, das macht nichts, Fraulein," he said 
as he went off; "das macht nichts!" 

So I have always found the German, from the 
lowest to the highest, kindly, willing, considerate. 
Even the servants are polite. If they have not been 
deliberately brought up to be familiar by the 
familiarity of their mistress, they are usually very 
respectful, and in the worst case look upon them- 
selves as members of the family. Certainly they 
do not look down upon you as inferior beings whom 
Providence has entrusted to their good-natured 



236 THE GERMANS 

care and pity. As I have said, one class is more 
polished than another, one class more for formality, 
one class possessed with a foolish craze for foreign 
ways, but at the bottom they are all the same. They 
are all actuated by the same extreme sensitiveness 
as regards their own and other people's feelings. 
Hence they are always warmly grateful for the 
smallest kindnesses, always enthusiastic, always 
careful with their criticism, always considerate for 
the weak spots in others. They do as they would be 
done by. It may be that they carry their form of 
politeness too far, praising and admiring and 
thanking to an exaggerated degree, which the Eng- 
lishman understands as little as the German un- 
derstands his reserve and coldness. But it is an 
unconscious error. They do not mean to flatter or 
to say more or less than is true, they simply shrink 
instinctively from saying what they themselves 
would not care to hear. 

Naturally there are rude and disagreeable Ger- 
mans — it has not been my fate to meet them, al- 
though I have no doubt they exist, since no nation 
is perfect — but the average German neither eats 
with his knife, nor pushes you off the pavement, 
nor treads on your toes actually or figuratively, 
nor helps himself to the best of everything 



MANNERS MAKETH MAN 237 

going. He is, in the first place, far too good- 
natured; and, in the second, usually indifferent to 
outward matters, he lays great stress on his code of 
manners. It is not our code, and like every code — 
even our own — it has its absurdities, its failings, 
and its many contradictions. On the one side you 
will often find formality confronted with a certain 
informality, a certain abruptness, which startles 
you, and then absurdities which will amuse you un- 
til you have got accustomed to them. There is, for 
instance, no particular reason why the center of 
the sofa should be the place of honor for the visitor 
— on the contrary, I have always found the sofa 
most uncomfortable; but then there is no reason 
why it should be more well-bred to put one's knife 
and fork together when finished than to leave them 
in any other position. On such trivial points it is 
only a matter of taste and custom, and he who can 
not get over such little differences had better stay 
at his native hearth. Where genuine heart polite- 
ness and good breeding is concerned, the German is 
equal to the best, and if his sensitiveness is respected 
there is no pleasanter person in the world to live 
with, no one more kindly or more courteous. Only 
it is not wise to laugh at his ways simply because 
they are different to what one is accustomed to. It 



238 THE GERMANS 

is always irritating to be laughed at, and it prevents 
all true understanding and appreciation. With a 
little sympathy it is easy to get accustomed to the 
unaccustomed, and to find its meaning. For there 
is always a meaning if one chooses to look for it, 
and the German meaning is sure to be like himself, 
good and kindly, with a dash of the chevaleresque 
and the poetic about it to relieve it from the dull 
gray of our prosaic modern life. 



CHAPTER XIII 

MARRIAGE — BEFORE AND AFTER 

In my German year there are many marriages, and 
if there is one thing more than another which re- 
minds me that the German years are passing, it is 
the way in which young Backfische, with their hair 
coiled in neat plaits over their ears, develop sud- 
denly into young ladies, and then with equal sud- 
denness bestow upon you a huge double sheet of 
printed paper, on one side of which Herr S. (title) 
and Frau S. (nee Z.) give themselves the honor of 
announcing the betrothal of their daughter Elsa 
with Herr K. (title), and on the other side of 
which Herr K. gives himself the honor of announc- 
ing his betrothal with Elsa, daughter of Herr S. 
(title) and Frau S. (wee Z.) . You then open your 
eyes, murmur "Fancy," send round the customary 
bouquet of flowers to the bride, and put the matter 
out of your mind for the year or six months, during 
which time the couple must wait in patience; or if 
you remember the happy event, it will only be 
when you meet them on the street arm in arm, the 
239 



240 THE GERMANS 

picture of Gemutlichkeit, and openly acknowl- 
edged devotion. Sometimes your surprise over 
certain engagements appears really justified. As 
I have said before, a girl in Germany must be a 
deformity and a pauper combined, not to be able to 
find a husband if she wants to; and more than once 
I have been bewildered by the brilliant matches 
which the most dowdy and impossible-looking 
have been able to bring about under their mother's 
skilful generalship. For the men in Germany do 
not marry — they are married; they are more or less 
passive articles of sale, which stand in rows in the 
matrimonial shop-window with their price labeled 
in large letters in their buttonhole, waiting pa- 
tiently for a purchaser. They are perfectly will- 
ing, even eager, victims; they want to be bought, 
but their position does not allow them to grasp the 
initiative, and they are thankful when at last some 
one comes along and declares herself capable and 
willing to pay the price. This may seem exag- 
gerated, and there are always the exceptions to be 
reckoned with, but it is true in the rule, and in 
every social circle, however low or high. The girl 
and her mother, with their purse in hand, pass the 
articles in review, and choose out the one which 
best suits their means and fancy. 




Charlemagne's Cathedral, south side, where thirty-five German Emperors 
were crowned, Aix-la-Chapelle 



MARRIAGE— BEFORE AND AFTER 241 

"I shall marry an officer," one girl told me some 
time ago, with the easy confidence of a person about 
to order a new dress ; and lo and behold, before the 
year was out she was walking proudly on the arm 
of a dragoon lieutenant. I even know of three 
women who swore to each other that they would 
only marry geniuses, and here also they had their 
will. One married a great painter, one a poet, and 
another a famous diplomatist. That they were all 
three peculiarly unhappy is not a witness against 
the system, but a proof that geniuses may — occa- 
sionally — be very uncomfortable partners. In this 
case the purchasers were rich and what is called 
"gefeiette Madchen" — that is to say, popular — and 
could therefore make their choice. Others of les- 
ser means would have had to content themselves 
with an officer, cavalry or infantry, according to 
the "dot" — or a lawyer, or a doctor, or a merchant, 
and so on down the scale. A pretty and charming 
girl can find her partner without any other per- 
quisites than her face and her charms, but her 
choice becomes at once more limited, for the men 
who can afford to marry a penniless wife are too 
few in number and too scattered. 

Hence marriages in Germany usually have a 
practical side, though they in no way resemble the 



242 THE GERMANS 

French manages de convenance. A young man in 
the marriageable age — in Germany from twenty- 
three to thirty-five — is rarely in a position to set up 
housekeeping unless he receives support either 
from his own father or from the family of his wife. 
Should he have chosen a state or professional ca- 
reer, his income will not be sufficient until he is at 
least thirty-three, and an unmarried man of thirty- 
three in Germany is a man who has been a consider- 
able time on the shelf. The officer is even worse 
off. At no time in his life is he in the position to 
support a family on his pay alone. All the support 
he gets from home is needed to fill up the gaps in 
his own personal existence, and only one man in a 
hundred is able to put the financial side of the ques- 
tion entirely out of sight. It is not that the Ger- 
man is a fortune-hunter — he simply can not help 
himself. 

I know one lieutenant who was desperately at- 
tached to a girl belonging to an aristocratic but im- 
poverished family. As is usual, he went first to the 
parents to ask their permission to propose to her — 
or rather to ask if they could afford him as a son- 
in-law. They named a yearly allowance which he 
knew to be insufficient, and he immediately retired 
without ever speaking to the object of his hopes. In 



MARRIAGE— BEFORE AND AFTER 243 

another similar case the girl's family offered to 
make every possible sacrifice in order to give her 
the husband she wished for, but this time it was the 
girl who refused to buy her happiness at so high a 
price. In both instances, neither of the parties have 
married, though they could have made brilliant 
matches had they wished it. 

Even young men of well-to-do families are 
scarcely ever able to marry without the financial 
support of their wives' people. The reason is clear 
and perfectly just. We will suppose a father with 
moderate means with a family of two daughters and 
a son. He takes from his fortune a certain sum — as 
much as he can afford — and divides it equally into 
three parts. The ordinary education of his chil- 
dren is now at an end. He takes the son's share of 
the money and spends it on his maintenance and 
training during the long years which must pass be- 
fore a professional man becomes self-supporting. 
Should the son come to him during his apprentice- 
ship with the plea that he wishes to marry, he at 
once asks who the girl is, and if her family is in a 
position to support the new menage. The reply 
being in the negative, the father produces his son's 
educational bills and lays them before him, with 
the remark: 



244 THE GERMANS 

"This represents your share of my wealth; what 
remains belongs to your sisters." 

Should the sisters — as sometimes happens — 
choose to spend their dowry in a continuation of 
their education, they are usually at liberty to do 
so, but unless the family be very wealthy, they must 
expect no more help when the marriage question 
appears on the horizon. As a rule, however, the 
girl who wants to marry stays at home and reserves 
her share, so that when the right man comes she 
will be able to marry him. At first sight this system 
has an ugly look, and suggests nothing but the most 
distasteful manages de convenance. One imagines 
young men up to their necks in debt pursuing every 
rich heiress that crosses their path; one imagines 
the sad plight of a girl who feels that the man she 
loves is at the bottom only seeking her money; but, 
as a matter of fact, the conditions exist no more in 
Germany than in England. 

"I can not marry a wife without money, but I 
will not marry her for her money," is the clear and 
definite standpoint of most German men, and they 
prove their sincerity. A short time ago Karlsruhe 
society was adorned by a very rich but unattractive 
daughter of a very obviously self-made man. It 
was clear that she was "doing the season" with the 



MARRIAGE— BEFORE AND AFTER 245 

idea of picking up some penniless young noble or 
officer, and indeed one would have supposed the 
temptation irresistible. The mother of an officer, 
renowned for his pecuniary difficulties, hinted 
gently that this was the opportunity of his life, and 
that he should make haste before this goldfish was 
caught by some more enterprising fisher. Her son 
shrugged his shoulders. 

"We may want money badly enough," he said, 
"but there are some things we can't swallow. There 
isn't one of us who would marry Fraulein R. just 
for her money's sake." 

Such indeed proved to be the case. Fraulein R. 
returned to her home without her noble fiance, and 
had to content herself with a husband of her own 
origin. Had she been other than she was, cultured, 
intelligent, or lovable, she would have had the 
whole eligible contingent at her feet, but her money 
alone was not sufficient attraction — not even for the 
most desperate fortune-hunter. 

"Das Herz muss auch mitsprechen," as one of 
the latter informed an elderly and motherly friend. 

The explanation for this phenomenon is to be 
found in the German temperament. The average 
Teuton loves his home, and his greatest ambition is 
to build up a family in whose bosom he can always 



246 THE GERMANS 

find comfort, support, and love. A gilded domes- 
tic misery is not to his taste. He is too easy-going, 
too indifferent to luxury, too much of a Gemiits- 
mensch to sacrifice his ideals for the sake of wealth 
and splendor. If he can have a grand house and 
horses and carriages, as well as the woman of his 
choice, so much the better, but the house and all the 
pertaining luxuries are secondary considerations. 
If he can afford to live in moderate comfort — very 
moderate for our ideas — he is equally happy. That 
is all he asks of life, or rather of his wife's parents. 
No doubt money gilds over many defects, and the 
wealthy, less attractive girl in Germany has more 
chance than her poorer, more attractive sister, but 
her money is not irresistible, and if she chooses a 
man who takes her solely for her wealth it is en- 
tirely her own fault. Sometimes her fortune is the 
primary attraction — the gild is there — but she will 
always be able to find a suitor who will do his 
utmost to fall genuinely in love with her, and who 
genuinely succeeds. A loveless marriage in Ger- 
many is the exception, and the exception is de- 
spised. As a rule, a match is made up of real 
affection and a moderate portion of practical con- 
siderations. 

The financial side of the case explains the custom 



MARRIAGE— BEFORE AND AFTER 247 

of first appealing to the parents before speaking to 
the girl. Naturally the girl knows well enough 
whither matters are tending, but no doubt she suf- 
fers many anxious moments of suspense. An amus- 
ing illustration recurs to me as I write, relating to 
a young pair whom the world had for a long time 
looked upon as "settled." They were always 
together, his attentions were very obviously inten- 
tions, but somehow or other he never — as it is vul- 
garly described — came to the point. The girl was 
distracted with uncertainty, until one day her par- 
ents returned from America after a long voyage. 
The same hour that they landed in Bremen the 
young cavalier packed his trunks and went to meet 
them, received their blessing — and the promise of 
the dowry — returned by the next train, and laid his 
hand and heart at his Penelope's feet. Whereupon 
she flung herself into his arms with the exclamation, 
"Endlich, du Sheusal!" ("At last, you horror!") 
Which form of acceptance, if unusual, was dis- 
tinctly satisfactory. 

I said at the beginning of the chapter that the 
men were more married than marrying, and I have 
based this conclusion on my observations and on a 
remark which a German lady once made to me. 

"An average girl can always get the man she 



248 THE GERMANS 

wants," she said, "as long as she does not want 
something too grand or too expensive." 

I think she was right. We will take the case of 
a Fraulein S., the daughter of a lawyer of good 
standing and moderate means. In her particular 
social circle she is not likely to meet any one beyond 
her reach. The young barristers who are invited to 
her father's house are all more or less eligible suit- 
ors, and she needs only to make her choice and her 
mother does the rest. Dinner parties, tennis parties, 
dances, picnics, etc. — they are all means to an end. 
With the slightest encouragement on the girl's part 
matters march rapidly forward. Twenty years ago 
a young couple were never left an instant to them- 
selves until they were actually married. Nowa- 
days the painful etiquette has been relaxed, and the 
task of marrying thereby simplified. With a tennis 
racket in her hand, Fraulein S. is at liberty to wan- 
der in a solitude a deux through the loneliest parts 
of the forest without any one being shocked or sur- 
prised. She can even go for days up into the 
mountains for sport without a chaperon, and how 
many matches ski-tours have brought about I 
should not like to say. The ball-room, in fact, has 
sunk out of sight as a matrimonial market. In the 
first place, it is bad form to dance more than twice 



MARRIAGE— BEFORE AND AFTER 249 

with the same girl unless one is engaged; in the 
second place, sitting-out corners are unknown, so 
that the young man naturally feels that his chances 
are better out of doors, where his preference is not 
observed by a dozen pairs of sharp watching eyes. 

Matters having reached a certain point, he 
puts on his top-hat and frock-coat and calls on 
Fraulein S.'s father. He explains his prospects, 
and the father explains his daughter's. Should 
both parties be satisfied the candidate proceeds on 
the path of victory in the usual way, and the huge 
notices are sent round to all friends and relations 
announcing the unlooked-for event. Once en- 
gaged, the young couple are free to do very much 
what they like, so long as they do it together. One 
meets them arm-in-arm at all times and at all places 
and without a chaperon, but it is considered bad 
form for the girl to attend any sociabilities without 
her fiance, and vice versa. If friends give a dance 
or a party, they have to invite both or neither — they 
must not and will not be separated. In the ordi- 
nary course of events, however, the girl drops out 
of public life during her engagement. She has so 
much to do and prepare that she has very little 
time for the amusements with which her disen- 
gaged sisters still occupy themselves. Even if she 



250 THE GERMANS 

is well-to-do, and can afford to have her trousseau 
made for her, there are still a great many things 
which she prefers to make or superintend herself. 

The trousseau, may it be said en passant, does not 
consist of a hundred pairs of everything, as a mis- 
guided English lady once informed me. She ex- 
plained the terrific number by the fact ( !) that 
German people only send their clothes to the wash 
twice in the year, and must therefore have a large 
stock to keep them going in the meanwhile. This 
may have been the case fifty years ago, but in fifty 
years quite a number of things change, and, as far 
as I have seen, German people either manage the 
regular and normal weekly wash themselves, or 
send their things in the English fashion to the laun- 
dryman, at whom they grumble in a fashion alto- 
gether international. Hence the bride's trousseau 
is quite a normal, if elaborate, one, for where lin- 
gerie is concerned the German woman is fastidious 
to a degree. It must be added, too, that she brings 
with her, as a matter of course, the whole house- 
hold equipment. The linen, furniture, cooking 
utensils — in fact, everything that is required for 
the new home — is supplied by the bride, or rather 
by her parents, and it is this part of the dot which 
falls heaviest on the paternal shoulders. 



MARRIAGE— BEFORE AND AFTER 251 

I have known families who denied themselves 
real necessities in order that the marrying daughter 
might start life fittingly. Sometimes the result is 
tragic. I know, for instance, a widowed mother 
whose daughter became engaged to a reputed mil- 
lionaire. Too proud to let her child enter such 
brilliant conditions in a poor and humble style, the 
mother spent the last penny of her fortune on the 
new home. A year later the millionaire was a 
bankrupt, and the old mother had to go out as a 
companion in order to keep husband and wife from 
actual starvation. Such catastrophes are all too 
frequent and all too inevitable in a country where 
family ties are so close, and the sacrifices demanded 
and made are so great. Perhaps sacrifice is not the 
word — the German looks upon everything done for 
the family as a simple duty. 

But to return to Fraulein S. and her prepara- 
tions, which we will suppose have been completed 
without causing too heavy a drain on the paternal 
purse. At last dawns the marriage itself. The 
night beforehand is the Polter Abend, when all re- 
lations and friends are invited to a last grand 
merrymaking, in which the bride and bridegroom 
play the leading part. Dancing, amateur theatri- 
cals, little entertainments (usually with pointed 



252 THE GERMANS 

reference to the engagement and pre-engagement 
days) fill up the evening hours. It is then that the 
chief presents are given, and it becomes the duty of 
the first of the three bridesmaids to present the 
bride with her myrtle-wreath — orange blossom is 
only used by the lower classes — while the second 
hands her the veil, and the third the handkerchief. 

In the Rhine provinces there are only two brides- 
maids, who escort the bridegroom to the altar, 
while the "best men" act as guard of honor 
to the bride, but this is a local custom, and 
in South Germany it is usual to have three 
bridesmaids who, however, are not required 
to wear any particular costume. The Polter 
Abend is a remnant of the old custom of 
celebrating a wedding a week beforehand and a 
week afterward — a business which, no doubt, 
proved too expensive and too exhausting. As it is, 
it adds considerably to the burden. I suppose in 
every country a wedding is a more or less trying 
business — especially for the bride; and in Ger- 
many, what with the Polter Abend and the actual 
ceremony, one would suppose that she would re- 
quire a rest-cure at a sanatorium to get over it. 

In the first place there are two ceremonies 
through which she must pass before the bond is 



MARRIAGE— BEFORE AND AFTER 253 

legal — the civil and the ecclesiastical. The latter 
can be omitted, but the better classes keep to it if 
only because it is considered good form. At eleven 
o'clock in the morning the bride is fetched by the 
bridegroom, and in company with her masculine 
relations repairs to the town hall, where the civil 
ceremony is performed. On her return home the 
bride is hurried into her wedding-dress, is once 
more fetched by the bridegroom, and the whole 
clan of relations and friends proceed to the church. 
The costumes on this occasion strike the English 
eye as unusual. The men are in evening dress, ex- 
cept for those who have the right to wear a uni- 
form, and who, of course, wear it. The feminine 
part of the congregation is at its smartest and finest, 
but there is no uniformity among the bridesmaids, 
who dress as suits them or their taste. The bride 
and bridegroom go to the altar together, and the 
ceremony, which is in all cases very simple, then 
proceeds. In Germany not only the woman but the 
man acknowledges his married state by a wedding- 
ring. The two rings are given to the bride and the 
bridegroom by the clergyman, but neither are new, 
having previously served as engagement tokens 
worn on the third finger of the left hand, and after- 
wards transferred to the right hand. A short ser- 



254 THE GERMANS 

mon follows, delivered from the altar, and ad- 
dressed directly to the married pair. The text has 
been previously chosen by the bride and bride- 
groom, and is afterward written in the Bible 
which is presented to them by the clergyman, no 
matter how rich or poor they may be. 

After the actual wedding the whole party returns 
to the bride's house, and then begins a festive meal 
which puts the German's powers of stoic, cheerful 
endurance to the test. It is a mighty meal, an awe- 
inspiring meal, a really awful meal. The clergy- 
man — if he has not found a legitimate excuse for 
escaping — sits between the bride and bridegroom, 
and makes a speech in their honor. Then the 
father of the bridegroom makes a speech in honor 
of the bride's family, and the father of the bride 
makes a speech in honor of the bridegroom's fam- 
ily, and then come the guests, the ladies, everybody 
en fin, till there is nothing left to toast except the 
wine itself. All this takes some hours — usually 
from three to seven — but no one shows any sign of 
fatigue, and the "Stimmung" rises from degree to 
degree, especially after the pointedly ignored de- 
parture of the bride and bridegroom. The evening 
is concluded with a dance, and if many guests are 
staying in the house, and the bride's mother has 



MARRIAGE— BEFORE AND AFTER 255 

enough strength left, there is what is called a 
"Nach-Hochzeit," a second festivity the day after- 
ward. Thus a German wedding in the well-to-do 
circles is a mighty affair, and keeps the families of 
the contracting parties in close association for 
nearly a week. It is not to be wondered at that, 
what with the length of time and the general matri- 
monial "atmosphere," the saying that one wedding 
begets another is peculiarly true in Germany. 

Among the lower classes weddings and funerals 
form the chief events of life, and both are very 
serious affairs. In earlier days it was the custom 
among the peasants for a specially appointed Jew 
to act as go-between among the families, and ar- 
range for suitable marriages and doweries, picking 
up a nice little percentage for himself by the way. 
Nowadays his expensive services are dispensed 
with, and the peasant manages his business by him- 
self. But it is a business, and the financial side of 
the question plays a very serious part. We have at 
present two servants in the house who are on the eve 
of engagement with two soldier "friends" — Lands- 
manner from their own village — but there is a de- 
lay, for which we are only too thankful, because 
neither of the girls has saved sufficient to start the 
housekeeping. Nobody expects the man to have 



256 THE GERMANS 

saved anything, but a servant girl who has not her 
fifty pounds in the bank is not considered possible, 
however devoted her suitor may be. He will be 
quite prepared to wait, and he will be faithful to 
her, but the money must be there before anything 
definite is settled. Perhaps he is right. At any 
rate, improvident and foolish marriages seem rarer 
here than elsewhere. So our two treasures are sav- 
ing might and main, and I suppose before long we 
shall once more be on the search for other treasures. 
When the time comes their marriage will be a 
modified reproduction of the ceremony I have al- 
ready described. Some time beforehand the couple 
will choose out their three-roomed flat and furnish 
it with the girl's savings, then one Saturday morn- 
ing — it is always a Saturday on account of the Sun- 
day holiday — the bridegroom, resplendent in 
frock-coat and top-hat, will arrive and fetch the 
bride, who has adorned herself in a new black dress 
with a white veil and orange blossom. The black 
dress is sometimes exchanged for white, but this 
only happens among those who wish to make an 
effect at all costs — the pretentious folk, who care 
more for show and finery than utility. The couple 
then drive in a hired carriage and pair to the town 
hall for the civil ceremony, and then on to church. 







• .'• ■ ' - - 

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■£*%'> ' ^ .v' 


- - . 




. £* -■■- . . ■ 




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^#^' *S*^ sn^ _ ... 



Sober-faced peasant children of the Black Forest 



MARRIAGE— BEFORE AND AFTER 257 

Afterward they enjoy a ponderous, melancholy 
meal, repair to the Stadtgarten for the afternoon, 
enjoy a day's respite, and then — life goes on as 
usual. 

A genuine peasant wedding is arranged on much 
the same principle, only more weight is laid on 
family, position, etc. No peasant will allow his 
daughter or son to marry out of the "Circle" or 
into a poorer family, and the ceremony is simply 
the seal on a fair bargain between two business 
people and their firms. The other day, on a tour 
through the Black Forest, I had the good fortune 
to witness just such a wedding. The couple had 
apparently passed through the civil ceremony, for 
when I arrived on the scene the whole cortege was 
on their way to the little village church, the bride 
and bridegroom, magnificent in their picturesque 
"Tracht," leading the way, followed by every 
friend and relation who could be mustered for the 
occasion. The Black Forester is a somber, melan- 
choly person, and the procession might just as well 
have been a funeral, except for the bright colors 
and glistening silver ornaments with which the 
women's dresses were adorned. After the marriage 
service, which was held in the broadest dialect, the 
whole party retired into the Gasthaus, where a 



258 THE GERMANS 

great dinner had been ordered. It must have cost 
the host a good portion of his hard-earned savings 
— it may even have cost him more than he could af- 
ford — and nobody seemed to enjoy it in the least. 

Very indiscreetly, perhaps, we peeped through 
the glass doors. The bride and bridegroom sat 
at the center of the table like two depressed wooden 
dolls, and as far as we could make out, nobody 
smiled or spoke during the whole performance. At 
intervals the village string band filled up the 
silences with slow and dreary music, which, after 
the tables had been cleared away, woke to some- 
thing like a waltz. Then the various couples put 
their arms round each other's waists — according to 
peasant fashion — and twirled lugubriously round 
the room until the musicians dropped with exhaus- 
tion. But no one laughed, no one spoke. The old 
peasant father sat huddled up in a corner, and 
watched the dancers with a grim and melancholy 
eye — no doubt counting the cost. At any rate it was 
a very grand wedding, so I was told, and probably 
that comforted him, for the Black Forest Gross- 
bauer is an aristocrat pur sang, and would prefer 
to mortgage his ancestral Hof up to the hilt rather 
than not do the thing properly and according to his 
position. 



MARRIAGE— BEFORE AND AFTER 2^9 

To return to the actual courtship, the point that 
impresses the observer most is its sobriety. Let me 
take our two girls as examples. Their suitors call 
on them and request them for the pleasure of a 
walk, which boon they graciously concede. The 
pairs then go off together — not arm in arm, because 
they are not yet engaged — but at a respectful dis- 
tance, and as far as one can see, wrapt in impene- 
trable silence. This happens once a week at the 
most, and the monotony is only broken by the yearly 
Kaiser Ball, to which the girls are invited by their 
soldier "friends." Be it admitted that our treasures 
are really treasures domestically and morally; 
other people may find their servants' affaires du 
cceur less agreeable, but our Freda and Lena are 
from the country, and have a certain Bauern Stolz 
which forbids the slightest unwarranted familiar- 
ity, the slightest overstepping of the boundaries of 
respectability. They would no more think of invit- 
ing their "Schatz" into the kitchen than they would 
think of stealing. But this solidity of character is 
typical of the German working class. Just as one 
sees no drunkards on the streets, so also is one sel- 
dom if ever tormented by the sight of brazen-faced 
couples whose exuberant signals of affection cast a 
blot upon the landscape. Here they walk arm in 



2 6o THE GERMANS 

arm or hand in hand — pictures of propriety and 
decorum. It is true that there are cases enough of 
immorality, but for the most part they are atoned 
for by subsequent marriage. A soldier, for instance, 
is not allowed to marry during his two years with 
the colors, and as that is the time when his court- 
ship is usually in full progress, it sometimes 
happens that the marriage ceremony has to be post- 
poned to a time which social order regards as "too 
late." But it is performed, and that is something to 
his credit, and it may be added that illegitimate 
children, according to German law, are legiti- 
mized by the subsequent legal union of the parents. 
And after marriage? I have already mentioned 
in an earlier chapter that the German wife is far 
from being the browbeaten, downtrodden crea- 
ture of the fables, but it must be admitted that the 
husband is the recognized master of the situation — 
more through custom than by actual legal right. 
Legally the woman and her fortune can be com- 
pletely safeguarded, but for all practical purposes 
the man is the ruler in the household, and she is 
content that it should be so. She has been brought 
up to regard the man as the being who must and 
should have the best of everything, and obedience 
to his wishes and requirements is too deeply en- 



MARRIAGE— BEFORE AND AFTER 261 

grained in her for any resistance. She contents 
herself — perhaps wisely — with a subtle under- 
ground influence, and the respect with which she is 
treated by her husband and her children. For the 
average German does not abuse his power and au- 
thority; and whatever else he forgets, he never for- 
gets that his wife is the mother of his children. 

That fact seems to bind him to her, and to raise 
her as high in his estimation as any intellectual 
qualities could do. It is the same with the children, 
who, although they have escaped from the harsh 
rigor of a few generations ago, are still brought up 
to treat their parents with respect and deference, 
even when they are grown up and independent. It 
is often quite startling for the English observer to 
see how young men, well in their majority, will 
obey without question or protest their father's ab- 
rupt and somewhat military commands. Yet, on 
the whole, German family life seems to me very 
peaceful and united. The members hang tena- 
ciously together, are usually devoted to each other, 
and domestic scandals and disagreements seem re- 
markable for their rarity. Divorce is easy to obtain, 
but it is looked upon as the highest disgrace, and, 
guilty or innocent, the mere fact that he has been a 
party in a divorce case is sufficient to ruin a man's 



262 THE GERMANS 

professional career. (An officer, for instance, who 
has been divorced, or who has divorced his wife, is 
practically compelled to send in his commission.) 

As divorce cases are all carried on de camera, the 
newspapers and a certain section of the public are 
cheated of many a sensational titbit, but I have not 
found that this consideration for individual feel- 
ings and public morality in any way increases the 
number of those seeking release from their con- 
jugal ties. To be divorced is in itself a stigma 
which the details neither abate nor increase, and 
divorces are comparatively rare — peculiarly rare, 
one might say, when it is taken into consideration 
that there are no legal separations, and that divorce 
is the one and only remedy. No doubt the German 
character is largely responsible for this peaceful 
state of things. Tenacious, slow, imbued from his 
birth with a great sense of duty, not given either to 
excess or excitement, faithful and conscientious, 
the German has all the qualities which go to make 
a satisfactory husband. Perhaps he would not suit 
the more independent Englishwoman — though, 
curiously enough, I know of twenty of my country- 
women in Karlsruhe alone who have run the risk 
without regretting it — but he suits the German 
woman as thoroughly as she suits him, and what 
more could be desired? 



CHAPTER XIV 

ANOTHER FABLE — CHEAP GERMANY 

My German Friend caused a mild commotion the 
other day by appearing at the breakfast table with 
a face flushed with excitement and pleasure. 

"Just think what has happened!" she entreated. 
"Just try and imagine!" 

Of course, as was expected and desired, nobody 
could imagine what had happened, though a few 
improbable suggestions were made. The great 
news was then burst upon us. 

"Something has grown cheaper!" 

"What?" 

"Bread!" 

General looks of strong disbelief. 

"It must be the first of April. How much?" 

"A whole pfennig a loaf!" 

It was true. The astounding thing had actually 

come to pass — something had really grown 

cheaper. It was almost too good to be believed — 

we felt that an avenging Nemesis in the form of a 

263 



264 THE GERMANS 

new tax on matches or something equally necessary 
would immediately appear on the scene to quench 
our joy, but as yet — the incident I have just related 
occurred two days ago — nothing has happened, so 
we are beginning to breathe again. It will be seen, 
however, that cheapness is something unusual, in- 
deed practically unknown in a German household; 
and the hopeful English family proposing to come 
and settle in the Fatherland in order to "econo- 
mize" had better change their minds and go else- 
where. I know just such a family, and I know all 
the experiences they went through, so that I feel 
myself in a position to act as warning spirit to any 
one laboring under the old delusion. This family 
was particularly sanguine. 

"What we want," wrote the mother, "is a nice 
little eight-room house with just enough garden for 
the children to play in. Of course a bath-room and 
a good kitchen will be necessary, and above all 
things it must be cheap. I am sure in a small town 
like Karlsruhe one can get a nice house at a very 
low rent, and I should be very grateful if you 
would be on the lookout for something suitable." 

I remonstrated so earnestly that I fancy the poor 
lady thought I had my private reasons for not 
wanting her in the neighborhood. At any rate she 



CHEAP GERMANY 265 

ignored all my warnings and protests, and landed, 
with the whole family, at the best hotel. 

"It looked so shabby that I was sure it would be 
cheap," she explained to me in triumph over her 
fine instinct in the matter of economy. There are 
some people whom it is wiser to leave to wander 
to their destruction in their own way, so I said 
nothing, trusting that the first week's hotel bill 
would be sufficiently convincing. My friend did 
not have to wait a week, however, before her eyes 
were very wide open indeed. 

"But," she exclaimed, after the first day's ex- 
hausting search after a suitable place of residence, 
"where are the houses? Everybody lives in flats. 
Why do they live in flats? They are horrid." 

"They are cheaper," I ventured meekly. 

"Why?" 

"Because you can build as high as you like with- 
out having to pay more ground rent. Only the rich 
people have their own houses." 

"How horrible! Aren't there any small houses 
to be had then — you know, nice little semi-detached 
villas for about £60 a year? Surely in a small town 
like this," — etc., etc. 

I showed her what there was to be had. There 
are some charming houses in Karlsruhe — real 



266 THE GERMANS 

works of art, with every imaginable comfort and 
convenience except a garden, and rents ranging 
from £150 to £300 a year. They reduced my friend 
almost to tears. 

"One hundred and eighty pounds for an eight- 
roomed house without a garden? — why, it is pre- 
posterous!" she told the house-agent in her best 
German. He looked very offended and threw open 
the window, displaying a backyard some ten feet by 
six. 

"There is the garden!" he said, in a tone which 
said plainly, What more could you want? "And as 
to the price," he went on, "it is very low for Karls- 
ruhe." Which latter statement was perfectly true. 
We ourselves, as I proceeded to explain, live in an 
old-fashioned house with ten rooms and a backyard 
which we have succeeded in transforming into a 
miniature garden — no electric light, no central 
heating, no hot water, blessed with the close prox- 
imity of a railway, and a rent of £150 a year. And 
the landlord treats us as though he were indulging 
in a kind of noble-hearted charity in not raising our 
rent by another £20. All' this sounded very de- 
pressing, and, with the justice which is usual in 
such cases, my friend remarked that it would have 
been kinder if I had told her all this before. 




Unter den Linden, Berlin's famous and beautiful street 



CHEAP GERMANY 267 

In the first moment of wrath and indignation she 
wanted to pack up and move on to a "typical cheap 
German town," but it was pointed out to her that 
unless she wanted to bury herself in what is called 
a "Nest," she would find nothing cheaper — that in 
fact the "typical cheap German town" is no more 
than a fable of times long past. This and the hotel 
bill helped to crush her last resistance, and she 
condescended to take a flat with the meek observa- 
tion that "perhaps it would not be so bad." The flat 
was on the fourth floor in a quiet part of the town, 
and consisted of five rooms, a kitchen of minute 
dimensions without a range, and an equally minute 
bath-room without a bath. For this Eldorado she 
paid £75 a year, and was told that she had done 
well. 

The next point was the servant question. My 
German Friend here came to the rescue, and ob- 
tained the services of an honest, red-cheeked girl 
from the country, who declared herself a cook and 
able to do any amount of work. My English friend 
smiled again — for the first time since the first day's 
house hunting — when she heard the wages, and she 
smiled still more when she saw what prodigies of 
industry and good will that small sum of £15 a year 
had procured. 



268 THE GERMANS 

"She can't cook much," she admitted, "but she 
works from morning to night, and is always so 
cheerful and willing and quite content to have only 
Sunday afternoon free. As soon as I have got her 
into cap and apron she will do splendidly." 

But the cap and apron proved the hitch. Neither 
good words nor threats would induce the paragon 
to change her own peculiar and miscellaneous cos- 
tume. Although the sight of the rather slatternly 
object at the front door nearly broke my friend's 
heart, she had to yield to the inevitable. 

"If you want a girl who will wear a cap and 
apron you will have to pay double and she will do 
half the work," she was told by the authorities, and 
after that the sturdy little maid-of-all-work was 
allowed to wander to the market hatless, capless, 
with a blue apron and a collarless blouse without 
protest. 

For a time all went well. After true English 
fashion my friend proceeded to continue her life 
on the English method without regard to the fact 
that she was no longer in England. She had, for 
instance, English breakfasts of ham and eggs, etc., 
and it was only after a few weeks that those lux- 
uries disappeared unhonored and unsung from the 
daily menu. After that the evening dinner van- 



CHEAP GERMANY 269 

ished, and we were cautiously questioned as to how 
we lived and what we ate. 

"I can't imagine what the Germans live on or 
how they manage to get so fat," she complained 
queruously — she was still blindly determined that 
all Germans are abnormally stout. "Everything is 
so frightfully dear. Meat is appalling. For a mod- 
erately good piece I have to pay twice as much as 
I would in England. Bread is twice as expensive, 
butter twice as expensive, vegetables twice as ex- 
pensive, tea three times 2s expensive — the only 
thing one can get cheaply is home-grown fruit, and 
one can't live on that all day." 

I agreed with her, and pointed out that as a logi- 
cal consequence the grand English meals are un- 
known here, even among the well-to-do families. 
A breakfast of coffee and rolls, a midday meal of 
soup, meat, and pudding, a simple tea with bread 
and butter, a supper of cold meat, cheese, or fruit — 
such is the culinary program of nearly every house 
in Karlsruhe. In a great many of the moderately 
situated families the midday pudding is altogether 
discarded, and I doubt if anywhere a four-course 
dinner is the usual thing. This applies to other 
towns and to the richest people. Everywhere there 
is the same simplicity where food is concerned. 



270 THE GERMANS 

The food is good and plentiful on wealthy tables — 
on poorer tables it is not so good or so plentiful, 
that is the chief difference. This simplicity is 
partly the result of taste, partly the result of the 
high rate of living. My English friend exaggerated 
when she said that everything was twice as expen- 
sive in Germany — a third would have been nearer 
the truth — but it is not an exaggeration to say that 
an English person is only half as rich here as in his 
own land. Unless he adapts himself to the German 
mode of living, and drops the luxuries to which he 
is accustomed, he will find himself very badly off 
indeed. 

The German is not badly off, and does not 
feel the increasing financial burden so heavy, sim- 
ply because he is, and always has been, content to 
live quietly and to do without what he considers the 
unnecessary things of life. He lays no stress on ap- 
pearances. You will never find a German pinching 
and squeezing the family purse in order to dress 
well or in the latest fashion. Clothes are appallingly 
expensive — I use the word "appalling" in all se- 
riousness — not only in Karlsruhe but everywhere, 
and the direct consequence is the badly-dressed 
people which sadden the German streets. It is no 
doubt part tastelessness, but it is also in no small de- 



CHEAP GERMANY 271 

gree because good and tasteful things are only to be 
had for heavy gold. The rich people do dress well, 
because they can afford unnecessary luxuries, but 
there are not many rich people hereabouts, and the 
moderately circumstanced folks are quite content to 
go shabby and live simply, reserving their money 
for things which they do consider necessary — edu- 
cation, holidays, the theater, concerts, and so on. 

In this brief review of German living I must not 
forget the taxes which cause the periodical out- 
bursts of indignation. On the whole they seem 
to me irritating but more justly divided. Not only 
the rich are taxed but everybody down to the 
kitchen-maid with her £ 1 5 a year. It must be very 
galling to have to part with even a few shillings of 
such hard-earned wages, and still more galling to 
have to render account of all tips and money-pres- 
ents, but nowadays one is so sorry for the poor 
rich people in one's own country that the system of 
general taxation seems quite acceptable. 

The lower classes accept this income tax with 
little complaint — it is the indirect taxation which 
causes the most wrath. The tax on matches is the 
latest injury over which the German people are 
brooding, and many and cunning are the ways in 
which the objectionable burden is shirked, some 



272 THE GERMANS 

people even going to the length of making their 
own matches. Which proves, I think, that it is 
more the German love of grumbling and protesting 
than real suffering, since the saving is minimum 
and the time wasted considerable. At the same 
time the taxes in Germany are sufficiently heavy to 
make living for many families distinctly prob- 
lematic. On an income, we will say, of £159 the 
direct taxation will be about £3, and the indirect 
taxation, the price of food and dwelling, will make 
the expenditure of the rest an all too easy matter. 
But the German adapts himself quickly, and what 
is more he is not in the least ashamed of adapting 
himself. 

"Food has grown more expensive — therefore I 
shall not have a new dress this summer," says Frau 
S. "Therefore I shall not entertain so much, there- 
fore we shall do without such and such a dainty 
or pleasure." And she brings the required sac- 
rifices without more ado. Wealth and poverty are, 
after all, purely relative and form her standpoint. 
She is quite as well off and quite as capable of fur- 
ther sacrifices as the English lady who appears 
every evening in full gala to partake of a four- 
course dinner served by daintily dressed parlor- 
maids. To tell the truth, I do not think that either 



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Typical German market-women 



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CHEAP GERMANY 273 

Frau S. or her husband would at all appreciate 
either the gala, the dinner, or the parlor-maids. I 
am convinced the gala and the servants alone would 
be quite sufficient to spoil all Gemutlichkeit in 
their eyes. 

After all this the natural question for the more 
fastidious and delicately nurtured Englishman to 
ask is, Why do so many foreigners come to Ger- 
many, and why is it that once they have settled they 
usually stay in spite of their grumblings? Being 
myself a case in point, I should be able to answer 
the question, and yet I find a decided difficulty. 
There are many answers, but the chief answer is 
something so vague and indefinable that it is hard 
to express in words. It is true — food, dwelling, 
and clothes, the three great necessities of life, are 
dearer here, and in many ways not so good, and yet 
it is also true that there are other things to be had 
which in England are beyond the reach of the poor 
man. There is a wonderful charm in the easy- 
going, simple, and unpretentious life, and it is the 
advantage of allowing the German and his imitator 
to indulge in certain luxuries, in certain pleasures 
which are dearer to him than fine clothes, fine 
homes, and expensive food. The German will bear 
anything, shabby clothes, stuffy flats, and plain liv- 



274 THE GERMANS 

ing, so long as he can enjoy himself in his own way, 
so long as he can afford a long yearly holiday, ex- 
peditions into the country, afternoons in the Stadt- 
garten, concerts, and, last but not least, a regular 
attendance at the great National School, of which 
I shall speak in the next chapter. 



CHAPTER XV] 

THE THEATER AND MUSICAL LIFE 

I THINK if I had no other reasons for living in 
Germany I should still stay on for the sake of the 
doctors and the theater. Hence enviable people 
who never need the former, and unenviable people 
who never want the latter, will find themselves de- 
prived of two of the things which are at once cheap 
and good in this country. Of the doctors, I need 
only reecho from my own experience what the 
world knows — namely, that they are brilliant spe- 
cialists who do not charge two guineas for con- 
ferring on you the inestimable boon of telling you 
to come again. Of the theater I can say with con- 
viction that it is an institution to which Germany 
owes more than perhaps even she realizes, and of 
which she has the right to be proud above all 
nations. 

In no country in the world does the theater play 
so mighty and so recognized a part. In England 
the theater is a relaxation, a place of entertainment; 
275 



276 THE GERMANS 

in Germany it is an education, a serious institution, 
and according to the standpoint from which it is 
judged it has become in the one country a place for 
second and third-class amusement, and in the other 
a temple of Art, a great school for those who have 
left the elementary steps of learning behind them. 
If this statement is disputed, I need only ask what 
self-respecting father in a middle-sized English 
town would dream of sending his eighteen-year-old 
daughter as a matter of course once or even twice 
a week to the local theater? The very idea would 
make him throw up his hands in horror. He 
would declare that such a proceeding would be the 
ruin of his daughter's character and morals, that 
he would be laying her open to the danger of hear- 
ing the most wretched clap-trap — if not worse — 
that was ever written. And he would be perfectly 
right. The most he does is to take her once a year 
to London, and if he has the unusual luck to hit 
upon the season of a reckless manager indifferent 
to earthly gain, he may be able to take her to a 
Shakespearean performance, otherwise he has the 
choice between very doubtful after-dinner society 
plays, vulgar pantomime, stupid and trivial musical 
comedies, and harmless little farces which have no 
value except as a passe-temps for those who have no 



THEATER AND MUSICAL LIFE 277 

brains left for anything deeper. The German who 
goes to London is always pathetically disappointed. 

"I suppose Shakespeare was an Englishman, 
wasn't he?" one young student remarked to me 
after a visit to England. I said that I believed so, 
unless the Germans had recently adopted him. 

"Then why is London the only capital in the 
world where you can't hear his plays acted?" 

"Oh, but you can sometimes. Only just lately, 
for instance, we have been having a Shakespearean 
revival." 

"Revival! You don't mean to say you revive 
Shakespeare? Why, we have never let him die. 
You can see him every day and on any German 
theater — we have always made a special study of 
him." 

Then, after a long, rather uncomfortable pause — 

"Who is your greatest playwright just now?" 

I ventured a few names. He shook his head at 
all of them except Bernard Shaw, whom he recog- 
nized and seemed to appreciate. 

"Yes, but he is something unusual — not strictly 
dramatic. Haven't you any one like our Haupt- 
mann, or Sudermann, or like the French Rostand?" 

"The most amusing part was the audience," he 
said laughing. "When anybody on the stage did 



278 THE GERMANS 

or said anything noble or heroic the people 
clapped, and when the sentimental parts came a 
thin orchestra played a melancholy accompani- 
ment. I suppose every nation has its tastes and 
ideals, but both actions seemed to me unworthy of 
serious drama." 

The expression "serious drama" stuck in my 
memory as something unusual. It occurred to me 
that the Englishman does not go to the theater for 
serious drama, he goes to be amused and digest his 
dinner. Under such circumstances the theater can 
not be serious in the best sense; it can be thrilling, 
dramatic, realistic, but it can not reach a high level 
because a high level is not required or appreciated, 
and remains the risky experiment of a quixotic 
manager. Hence it is only natural that to go to the 
theater as regularly and as often as the German 
does would, in England, be proof of a decided 
frivolity, not to say immorality. But here in Karls- 
ruhe nearly every moderately well-to-do family has 
its season ticket for the theater, which allows for 
two, and sometimes three performances a week, 
and the grown-up girl who has not seen the chief 
masterpieces of the German and foreign classics, 
besides a goodly number of modern dramatic 
works, would think that her education had been 



THEATER AND MUSICAL LIFE 279 

shamefully neglected. Her education, be it ob- 
served! 

It is the same with music. Whatever else 
must be sacrificed, the family must have its opera. 
They go as shabby as you like and sit in the cheap- 
est seats without shame, but go they must. And it 
must be added that poverty can prove no real bar- 
rier. In Karlsruhe, for instance — and again Karls- 
ruhe is fairly typical in this respect — it is possible 
to hear all the classic plays at specially reduced 
prices, which means that a seat in the gallery costs 
twenty pf., and the best seat in the house three 
marks. On such occasions the theater is crammed 
from floor to ceiling. Every class is represented. 
The school-boy, the school-girl, the shopkeeper, the 
shopkeeper's assistant, the student, the soldier, the 
under-officer, the officer himself, and far away up 
among the gods the ordinary day-laborer. The 
particular performance which I have in mind was 
Schiller's Jungfrau von Orleans, and it was hard to 
decide which was the most absorbing — the play or 
the audience. The former was well staged and 
performed, but the earnest faces, the absolute, at- 
tentive quiet of that heterogeneous crowd, brought 
together solely by actual love of the thing, was per- 
haps the most impressive, the more inspiring. 



2 8o THE GERMANS 

As I have said, that was a special "cheap" 
performance. The ordinary prices for a play or 
opera — the theater here serves for both — is from 
eighty pf. to seven marks, but the season ticket 
holder gets his place for about half the price. Be- 
sides the numberless free seats which are given to 
deserving cases, there are big reductions made for 
students at the Polytechnicum, Art Schools, and 
Conservatorium, and once a year the whole of 
Wagner's Ring is given in an extra abonnement, 
which means that on the best seats the whole four 
evenings cost sixteen marks, and on the cheaper 
seats about four marks. I give these details to show 
that the theater and its educational advantages are 
within the reach of every one, and it is only fair to 
add that the performances are first class even when 
compared to those of larger and richer theaters. It 
is only necessary to mention that Mottle was fifteen 
years conductor here, and that many of the singers 
have performed in Covent Garden and Bayreuth, 
to prove that it is not a case of cheapness and poor 
quality. 

Those wonderful evenings in my German Year! 
Though they recur so constantly they do not lose 
their charm or their impressiveness — rather each 
time I am more stirred to respect and admiration 



THEATER AND MUSICAL LIFE 281 

for the deep-rooted love of the great and beautiful, 
which must be as well in the audience as in the per- 
formers. They are not fashionable evenings — 
nothing could be a greater contrast than an evening 
in the Karlsruhe Court Theater and an evening in 
Covent Garden. Nobody goes because it is "the 
thing," nobody goes to show off diamonds and fine 
clothes. Dowdy and shabby, Karlsruhe's little 
world plants itself in every place it can get hold of, 
and sits or stands there in breathless silence from 
the warning tap of the conductor's baton to the fall 
of the curtain, when it delivers its judgment either 
in rapturous enthusiasm or merely complimentary 
applause — according to the performance. For the 
Karlsruhers are very critical and not easily satis- 
fied. 

One would suppose that six hours of serious so- 
called "heavy" music would appeal only to the 
elect and highly educated, but a glance up at the 
gallery of the Court Theater on a Wagner evening 
proves quite the contrary. It is an orderly crowd 
that sits up among the gods, but it is a crowd com- 
posed of the poorest classes. I remember some 
time ago a special performance of Tannhauser 
which was being given with a famous guest in the 
title role. I had neglected to procure a seat before- 



282 THE GERMANS 

hand, and was told at the ticket office that only one 
single place in the topmost gallery was to be had. 
In Germany one can do as one likes in such matters, 
so I took the seat and went. The stage was not 
visible from my point of view, though the music 
sounded better than from any other part of the 
theater, so my eyes were free to study the faces 
about me. For the most part they were quite com- 
mon faces, and poverty was written all over the 
respectable though shabby clothes. Nevertheless 
in that hour at least, my neighbors seemed to be 
neither common nor poor. Some of those nearest 
me sat with closed eyes, others had their heads sup- 
ported in their hands — but no one moved, no one 
spoke. 

Only once, during Elizabeth's prayer, a wom- 
an's hand stretched over the seat behind and 
grasped my shoulder. It was a thin, work-worn 
hand, not very clean. I turned and looked at her 
in some annoyance. She was a poor-looking crea- 
ture of the market-woman class, but her face was 
illuminated, transfigured with a kind of ecstasy 
which I shall never forget. I said nothing, and 
when the prayer ended she dropped back with a 
muttered apology. No one heeded or noticed the 
incident. It was as though each one of those weary 



THEATER AND MUSICAL LIFE 283 

toilers had thrown aside their daily cares and wan- 
dered off for a brief respite into another world, 
which belongs to the lowest and the highest if he 
have but ears to hear and eyes to see. It was a 
Sunday evening, but I think the strictest Sab- 
batarian must have hesitated before condemning 
had he for once broken his law and sat beside me in 
that dense crowd of dreamers. I think he must 
have admitted that it is better to listen to ennobling 
music than to loaf round public-house corners — to 
be elevated to a higher sphere at least once a week, 
than be dragged lower by a day's depraving idle- 
ness. 

On such an evening one finds one of the an- 
swers to the question, Why is it that a German Sun- 
day crowd is quieter, more decent and respectable, 
than our own? It is not least because the people 
are not flung entirely on their own resources, not 
compelled to seek their pleasure in the lowest quar- 
ter. They are offered the best at the lowest possible 
price. On Sunday, their one and only holiday, the 
galleries and theater are open to them, and he who 
prefers to seek mental refreshment rather than the 
pleasures of the public-house is at least given the 
chance to respond to the higher inclination. And 
it is noteworthy how many do respond from all 



284 THE GERMANS 

classes, even from the lowest. The German State 
has, indeed, recognized a fact which we have al- 
ways chosen to ignore, namely, that a National 
Theater and Opera is something more than a hot- 
house for national talent — it is an immense power, 
a subtle method of influencing the lives and char- 
acters and thoughts of a whole people. Only a 
State theater, or a theater supported by a fixed 
official income, dare make an ennobling use of that 
influence. A self-supporting theater must eventu- 
ally lower itself to its audience, it has not the 
financial strength to fight against the public taste, 
already ruined by the unwholesome fare offered it. 
Here the State theater has done its work regard- 
less of gain or loss. The people, down to the lowest, 
have been educated nolens volens to appreciate the 
best; they have had no rubbish offered them to sat- 
isfy their lower tastes; they have been deliberately 
forced upward; and now that the higher standard 
has been obtained, it is possible for a private theater 
to exist and retain that standard. The packed 
house which responded to the invitation to witness 
an old classic tragedy proved that the audience 
was ripe enough to appreciate what was offered 
them, and who can calculate the benefit which was 
gathered from such an evening? But the State 



THEATER AND MUSICAL LIFE 28$ 

theater is still a necessity; it is, as it were, the back- 
bone of the dramatic and musical national life, 
the high-water mark which the private theaters 
must struggle to attain at all costs. Moreover, the 
State theater raises not only the audience, but it 
can afford to place the performers in a higher and 
more secure position, socially and financially. 

A singer or an actor in a State theater is a State 
official ; he receives a settled income, and after a cer- 
tain number of years' service, a small but sufficient 
pension. In Kjarlsruhe, for instance, he is the direct 
servant of the Grand* Duke, to whom the theater 
belongs. He is presented at Court, and so long as 
he proves himself capable and worthy of the posi- 
tion accorded him, he can always count on the 
interest and support of his royal master. In cases 
where a great talent is in question he is the spoiled 
darling, granted long leave to travel as guest to 
other theaters and other countries, receiving his 
full salary the whole time, only compelled to sing 
when it pleases him and what pleases him, and even 
has his debts paid for him. Naturally this refers 
only to the chief actors and singers, but even the 
lesser lights can, if they are careful, secure a liveli- 
hood. On the whole, therefore, their position is 
enviable compared to that of those engaged in 



286 THE GERMANS 

private theaters, where there are no pensions, 
where only "season" engagements and uncertain 
pay are to be obtained. 

The besetting dangers of a State theater — red- 
tapeism and a narrow-minded censorship — are es- 
caped here with remarkable success. Occasionally 
a worthless piece is dragged on to the stage through 
patronage, and occasionally a modern masterpiece 
is ignored because it does not conform to the rigor 
of the Court morality, but both mistakes are only 
the exaggeration of two valuable virtues. The 
same patronage has brought to light many an ig- 
nored genius — every one knows, for instance, what 
Wagner owed to the King of Bavaria — and the 
same censorship keeps out the poisonous rubbish 
which infests private theaters. The State recog- 
nizes its responsibility, and if it is sometimes over- 
zealous, the fault is on the right side. 

The power of the State theater lies in the fact 
that it is not limited to the capital. Every mod- 
erate-sized town in Germany has its Court or Town 
theater, where the masterpieces of every language 
and the greatest works of the composers are pro- 
duced from September to June, without interrup- 
tion, for a sum which is within the reach of every 
one. I have visited other theaters outside Karls- 



THEATER AND MUSICAL LIFE 287 

ruhe, and have never found that the standard has 
been lowered — I do not think that the standard 
could be lowered without financial loss. It is sig- 
nificant, for instance, that at Carnival, when, to suit 
the season, an operetta is given, the theater is com- 
paratively empty. Possibly the people are other- 
wise occupied; but when Tristan und Isolde is 
given, no matter what the season, the house is 
packed from floor to ceiling. I remember last July 
that Wagner's great masterpiece was given as the 
last performance in the theatrical year. It was a 
suffocating summer's night, when you would have 
supposed that no ordinary human being would 
willingly endure the atmosphere of a theater, still 
less have the mental energy to listen with intelli- 
gence to five hours of the most serious music. An 
operetta — yes, but Tristan und Isolde! Never- 
theless the house was sold out, there was not even 
standing room left. Doubtless there is a peculiar 
charm in those midsummer nights' performances. 

In Karlsruhe the theater is situated on the bor- 
ders of the Castle grounds, in front stretches the 
broad flower-grown Schlossplatz, and between the 
acts one wanders out into the clear night air and 
watches the moon rise over the forest trees with the 
lingering echoes of well-loved motifs still ringing 



288 THE GERMANS 

in one's ears. It reminds one of Bayreuth, save that 
in Bayreuth it is the sinking sun over the hills 
which greets the audience as it streams out; but 
there is the same "Stimmung," the same conscious- 
ness that those about one are stirred by the same 
emotions, are listening and responding to the same 
harmonies. Perhaps even more here than there one 
is impressed and inspired with the knowledge that 
they are all music-lovers, not imitative parrots of 
fashion seeking to do "the latest thing." It is that 
genuine whole-souled love and understanding 
which raises a Wagner performance, even in a 
small German town, to the level of the grandest 
Covent Garden effort. The atmosphere — the 
"Stimmung" is everything. 

A few years ago a celebrated German conductor 
was offered an engagement for two years in Amer- 
ica to conduct in a series of operas, for which he 
was to receive — according to German ideas — a 
fabulous salary. At the end of the first year, 
however, he came back, with the despairing 
declaration that he could not stand it — not even at 
the highest price. The consciousness that the audi- 
ence did not understand and appreciate as he was 
accustomed to them understanding and appreciat- 
ing paralyzed him, paralyzed his orchestra, and 



THEATER AND MUSICAL LIFE 289 

paralyzed the singers. No doubt things are better 
to-day, but it is inevitable that music, and to some 
extent drama, should stand at a higher level in a 
country where they are intelligently appreciated by 
the people. The theater in Germany is financially 
supported by the State, but above all it is supported 
by the need for it in the heart of the multitude. It 
is only necessary to count the institutions, Vereins, 
schools, with which Karlsruhe is inundated to feel 
how deep that need is. There are at least a dozen 
choral societies, composed for the most part of the 
lower classes, under the direction of a professional 
musician; as many schools where a first-class mu- 
sical education can be had for a few pounds a year; 
and more private orchestras and quartettes, than I 
should like to count. There is also a large and im- 
portant Bach Society, which next Sunday is giving 
a lecture on its patron musician, with an illustrat- 
ing concert for the benefit of the working classes — 
a musical event which, I am told, will be honored 
by the attendance of all the factory folk in and 
about Karlsruhe. This Bach Society reminds me of 
a poor little sewing-woman, who used to come to 
our house to attend to the dilapidated household 
goods. She always looked so thin and ill and pov- 
erty-stricken that it seemed a cruelty to suggest 



290 THE GERMANS 

work to her, but her frail body was kept alive by an 
inexhaustible fund of energy, and she was all eager- 
ness and willingness. One day she brought back 
our damaged possessions, together with an addi- 
tional burden in the form of a stout volume of 
Bach's oratorios. 

"I had to come a little earlier, gnadiges Frau- 
lein," she apologized meekly. "You see, we have 
practice this evening." 

"Practice?" I echoed. 

"Yes ; I belong to the Bach Verein. We are hard 
at work at the Matthauspassion for the next con- 
cert." 

"Do you sing, then?" The question was pardon- 
able, for she was coughing most of the time, and 
her voice sounded dry and husky. 

"Only a little; but they say I have a good ear, 
and sometimes I just sit and listen. It is so beau- 
tiful." 

Her whole face had lighted up, she looked 
stronger and healthier for that short moment. I 
believe that without that one pleasure, that one 
bright spot in her life, the little strength she had 
would long since have been broken. Some time 
afterward circumstances made it necessary for me 
to seek her out in her own dwelling. It was scarcely 



THEATER AND MUSICAL LIFE 291 

more than a divided cupboard at the back of some 
old houses, and in the one division was her bed — 
in the other her piano. The miserable bed and the 
carefully tended piano made a picture whose ex- 
planation needed no words. It told sufficiently of a 
great sacrifice made to the ruling passion of a seem- 
ingly wretched and sunless existence. And her case 
is not isolated. In greater or lesser degree the aver- 
age German of every class sacrifices something of 
his time, his money, and above all his interest, to 
music. From the overworked school-boy who 
spends his few spare hours at the piano, to the busi- 
ness man who regularly plays quartette, one finds 
the same earnest enthusiasm, the same love and un- 
derstanding. 

It goes without saying that the half-terrible, half- 
ridiculous specter of dilettantism is not wholly 
banished from German soil. The maiden who rev- 
els in Mendelssohn's Songs Without Words, and 
pretty showy little pieces de salon with trills in the 
right hand and a running accompaniment in the 
left, may sometimes be met, but she is not admired 
as an infant prodigy — even by her family — and she 
is firmly suppressed by public taste, so that one 
hears very little of her. The average German is a 
true musician; and if it be true that "the man who 



292 THE GERMANS 

hath no music in his soul is fit for treason," then 
by inversion the Teuton must be the most trust- 
worthy man on earth. And, indeed, I am not sure 
that my affection and admiration for him has not 
grown fastest in the dim Karlsruhe theater, when 
the music of the greatest Germans has broken upon 
the tense stillness. I am not sure that in the stifling 
atmosphere of the fourth gallery I did not learn to 
know him at his best and truest — as the musician 
and the dreamer. 



CHAPTER XVI 

EDUCATION 

IN the course of my German year— or rather years 
— it has been my fate to meet many people belong- 
ing to many different circles and of all ages. Some 
have merely passed across my horizon, others have 
remained, but whether my acquaintance with them 
has been merely superficial or otherwise, they have 
as a whole impressed me as people either excep- 
tionally intelligent or exceptionally well-educated. 
I have not made up my mind as to the exceptional 
intelligence — I divide German women, for in- 
stance, into two distinct groups, the intensely wide- 
awake or the intensely dull— but certainly it is very 
seldom that one stumbles over such crass ignorance 
as one sometimes finds in England, even among 
the so-called educated classes. It never struck me 
until I had been some time in Germany that there 
was anything wrong with our system of education, 
or that our standard was not the highest; and when 
a German professor informed me in a courteous 
293 



294 THE GERMANS 

roundabout way that English schools were delight- 
ful places, where one learned as little as possible at 
the highest possible price, I was most indignant. 
Then gradually, by force of comparison, my na- 
tional self-satisfaction dwindled, and I have been 
forced to the conclusion that the professor's state- 
ment was not wholly without justification — espe- 
cially where women's education is concerned. 

There are no doubt one or two public schools for 
girls in England where a sound education can be 
obtained, but if one may judge by results, the 
average private school, if an abode of happiness, is 
little better than the finishing establishment of our 
grandmothers. I know too many English girls of 
average intelligence who have been the "best" 
pupils at first-class and very expensive boarding- 
schools, not to have been able to form an estimate of 
the average English girl's knowledge. As a rule 
she can read intelligently, sometimes she can write 
correctly — but by no means always — she can add 
and subtract, and make herself a nuisance on the 
piano. Add to that a blur of geography, history, 
and literature, a few sentences of atrocious French 
and worse German, and you have the sum-total of 
her earthly wisdom. Her parents are very proud; 
she plays tennis excellently, and to all appearances 



EDUCATION 295 

is mentally well equipped, for have they not paid 
£150 a year for her education, and has she not 
passed the Cambridge Higher Local with first-class 
honors? But ask that same prodigy a single ques- 
tion outside her so-called "period," ask her a single 
question concerning modern literature or modern 
events, and she looks at you in absolute blankness. 
In truth, she has been crammed with her periods 
for that examination — "the rest is silence." 

Cramming for and the love of examinations is 
the curse of English education; the examinations 
prove next to nothing, and sometimes are wholly 
misleading, and the system by which pupils are 
dragged up to grasp the empty glory is enough to 
make sound knowledge an impossibility. The Ger- 
man pedagogue starts out on his task with an en- 
tirely different theory. Examinations in themselves 
count for very little in his eyes ; it is the year's work, 
the class work of the pupil which matters. The 
examination is- the tolerated evil — not the end-all 
and the be-all of a school career. He regards the 
school, moreover, as a preparation for education— 
not the education itself, which begins after the boy 
or girl has left school— and it is essential, therefore, 
that the preparation should be thorough and em- 
brace the widest possible ground. There must be 



296 THE GERMANS 

no vagueness, no collecting of scraps or polishing 
up of set periods. What the pupil learns must be 
learned in a way which will make it of lasting 
utility to him. 

But there is, I must add, a shadowy side to the 
preparation. It is said that the German school-boy 
and -girl are overworked, and there is all too much 
truth in the statement; the pressure put upon them 
is extreme, and leads sometimes to tragic break- 
downs. Few Germans look back upon their school- 
days with any particular pleasure ; it is for them the 
time when they work hardest, have least leisure, 
are least children. A little six-year-old boy of my 
acquaintance, who, after his first week at school, 
asked his mother, "Then, shall I never be able to 
play again?" voiced the pathetic appeal of the 
greater number of German children. From the 
hour that they pass through the school doors they 
have ceased to be children — they have become 
workers, responsible beings, to whom life has be- 
come an immense, serious reality, and play an ever- 
decreasing interlude. The evil of the system is 
apparent to every one, and efforts are being made 
to check it, to find a middle path between the 
English slackness and the German high pressure — 
hitherto tried with little success. 




School girls in holiday costume playing games 



EDUCATION 297 

The reason that the German is advancing with 
so much rapidity in the world is that he spares 
no one, least of all himself. "Either you are fit, 
and then you must bear the burden, or you are not 
fit, and then it is best that you go to the wall at 
once." Such is the stern admonition which is ad- 
dressed to every young man or woman wishing to 
force their way into the professional world, and the 
demands made upon them are increasing daily. It 
is useless for the schools to attempt to curtail their 
curriculum so long as the State continues to screw 
its standard to an ever higher and less attainable 
pitch. 

All of the professions are overcrowded, and the 
State can afford to be particular. Those who do 
pass their tests have the chance of a brilliant career 
before them; those who fail, mentally or physi- 
cally, have proved their inability to fill any im- 
portant post, and the State is glad that it has 
weeded them out. The same applies to business 
and trade. The successful business man in Ger- 
many is the man who works unremittingly from 
eight o'clock in the morning till seven o'clock at 
night, who takes one holiday a year, and bears the 
strain without mental or physical injury. Those 
who can not stand the hours nor the constant tax 



298 THE GERMANS 

upon mind and body, who need holidays and sport 
as a relaxation, are simply "hustled" out of the 
competition. There is no room anywhere for the 
weakling — only the fittest can survive. 

Hence, whatever branch the school-boy chooses, 
his life will be a hard one, and it is not to be won- 
dered at that he looks older than his years. From six 
to eighteen his time is spent in steady work with 
short holidays — ten weeks in the year is the average 
amount. In all probability he makes his debut 
into the educational world through the Kinder- 
garten — a merciful German institution which pre- 
pares the child's mind for the coming strain. He 
then passes on into the Elementary School, where 
he remains until his tenth year. It is then time for 
him to choose the direction in which his studies are 
to tend. If he is going in for a professional career 
he is sent to the ordinary Gymnasium, where he re- 
ceives a thorough classic education on the old sys- 
tem; if he is going in for a commercial or technical 
career he passes into the Realgymnasium, where 
the greater stress is laid upon practical science, 
modern languages, and mathematics. There he re- 
mains until he is eighteen. By that time, following 
the normal course, he has reached the first class, but 
even if he has only reached the second he is consid- 



EDUCATION 299 

ered as having reached a sufficiently high standard 
to be excused one year of his service in the army. 

Should he, for some reason, have been edu- 
cated at a private school, he will have to pass the 
Einjahrige Examination — a test requiring the same 
amount of knowledge as a boy in the second class 
must possess. The Einjahrige Examination — or, 
in the usual routine, the second class standard — is 
the lowest with which an educated German can 
start life. It is by no means a low standard, as the 
many coaching schools testify, and the problem 
how it is to be reached is the one which the parents 
of not over intelligent boys have to face and solve. 
The private teachers and schools exist in order to 
help them. The elementary schools and the Gym- 
nasium are all State or town institutions, which can 
be attended by every one who can afford the neces- 
sary sixty marks a year; and, in spite of the mixed 
society in which his son must mingle, the average 
German father prefers to send him there rather 
than to a private school. A father residing, we will 
say, in Karlsruhe, would no more think of sending 
his son to a boarding-school in another town than 
he would think of sending him to a reformatory. 

The boy stays .at home and attends the Town 
Gymnasium, or, if his home should happen to be in 



3 oo THE GERMANS 

the country, he is sent to some professor's family in 
the nearest town. Boarding-schools for boys have, in 
fact, like the other private schools, a certain stigma 
attached to them. They exist for those who are 
either too delicate, too stupid, or too unmanageable 
and untrustworthy to be brought up to the critical 
Einjahrige standard by any other means. In the 
Gymnasium the boy always enjoys a certain intel- 
lectual freedom. If he is treated as a machine, he is 
at least treated as a reasonable machine, which will 
work because it knows that the work is essential to 
its existence in after life. He is not watched over or 
guided. He must work — how he works is his own 
affair. This requires of him a certain strength of 
character and a considerable amount of brains. 
Should he lack both he is weeded out and sent to a 
private school, where he receives "individual care 
and attention." Hence a boy who enters life with a 
private school education behind him is already la- 
beled as mentally or physically or morally unfit. 

Continuing with the average German's educa- 
tional career, he passes from the Gymnasium into 
the army, and that year with the troops is his sal- 
vation, the great antidote for the errors of his pre- 
vious upbringing. But for that he would become 
an energiless, unhealthy victim of overwork, physi- 




University build 



tigs, once the home of a prince, now 
six thousand five hundred students 



requented by 



EDUCATION 301 

cally, and, consequently, mentally, unfit for the 
strenuous battle before him. For that year his 
brain rests, his body is trained and steeled, and he 
reenters the lists as a powerful, fully developed 
man. If he has chosen a professional career he 
then passes into the university, which requires of 
him the first-class Gymnasium standard, but once 
he has passed her portals she takes no further notice 
of him. He can study or "bummel," just as he 
pleases. He is then more than ever a voluntary 
worker, working for his own advancement and 
benefit, and it is unnecessary, therefore, to force or 
control him. Except for the examination at the 
end of his career, the German student is under no 
sort of surveillance, and the lectures are only there 
to lend him an indirect and additional assistance. 
To all practical purposes he must study by himself, 
and his whole previous education has prepared him 
for the task. The foundations, whatever they cost, 
are at least firm and secure. He can continue to 
build on alone. 

A girl's education — and here the superiority to 
the English system as regards results is the most 
marked — is carried on on almost the same lines as 
the boy's, with the difference that private schools 
enjoy a degree more favor. Many parents object to 



3 o2 THE GERMANS 

the inevitable undesirable elements which find their 
way into the town schools, and prefer to send their 
daughters either to the boarding or private day 
schools. The former does not abound in the same 
numbers or the same dimensions as in England. In 
Karlsruhe there is a "model" boarding-school 
under the direction of the Dowager Grand-Duchess 
— a fine building allowing for about sixty pupils, 
and fitted up with every imaginable convenience. 

In many ways it is equal to anything I have seen 
in England — especially where the domestic and 
feminine side of the education is concerned. Each 
class, for instance, has its own sitting-room — charm- 
ing little boudoirs, kept in the most immaculate 
order, and characterized by many dainty indi- 
vidual touches. The cubicles, with their hot and 
cold water, wash-hand-stands, the luxurious bath- 
rooms, the broad airy passages and classrooms, the 
general air of freshness and cleanliness, changed all 
my previously conceived theories as regards Ger- 
man boarding-schools, and even the English people 
who went with me on my tour of inspection were 
compelled to admiration. Yet it was an essentially 
German school, as we were quickly reminded, a 
few Backfische in the school uniform, with fresh 
cheeks and tightly braided hair, who greeted us on 



EDUCATION 303 

the staircase with a profound curtsey, being enough 
to bring us back to the reality. Also the longer 
school hours, the fewer holidays, the general 
indifference to sport, the moderate fees, were mark- 
edly German features. No doubt here the educa- 
tional years pass happily enough, with less of the 
usual strain and stress, but such a school and such 
an education is the exception rather than the rule. 

Although the fees are so low — £70 a year is, I 
believe, the charge made for German pupils — they 
are still a large consideration for German parents. 
They argue that an equally thorough and perhaps 
broader education can be obtained at the town 
school for sixty marks a year, and that it is, more- 
over, a mistake to send children away from home 
in the most impressionable years of their life. As a 
rule they send their daughters into what is called 
the Hohere Tochter Schule, an equivalent for our 
High School, and there she can remain to the end 
of her education. Those who wish to study later at 
a university enter the Madchen Gymnasium, which 
is conducted on exactly the same lines as the boys' 
Gymnasium. Up to the present, Karlsruhe is one 
of the few towns that have a separate institution for 
girls. In Mannheim, for instance, the girls attend 
the same Gymnasium as the boys, and the experi- 



3o 4 THE GERMANS 

ment of mixed classes has proved successful, both 
sexes being stimulated to do their utmost. This Gym- 
nasium education is unrivaled. Compare a German 
girl who has been through the course with an Eng- 
lish school-girl of the same age, and one is struck 
not only by the variety of the former's knowledge, 
but by its definiteness, its thoroughness. She has 
not merely "heard of things," which is about all 
the English girls can say when questioned. She 
knows, and knows intelligently, not by any means 
as a parrot who has been drilled with a few sen- 
tences. 

No doubt she has worked twice as hard as her 
English cousin, as the school hours show. The 
ordinary school-girl in Germany works from eight 
o'clock to one o'clock, with fifteen minutes' break, 
and again in the afternoon from three to five. Be- 
sides that she has her extra lessons, practicing, and 
a heavy load of home work. It is not at all unusual 
for quite young girls to work late into the evening, 
and even into the night, and the sallow faces and 
short-sighted eyes which so often strike one in this 
country can often be traced back to overwork and 
lack of exercise. On the whole, one is surprised 
that there are not more cases of mental and physical 
breakdown, and my observations have led me to 






EDUCATION 305 

conclude that the German girl is at any rate physi- 
cally far more capable of persistent labor than an 
English girl. I do not believe that the latter could 
stand the strain which the former bears with com- 
paratively little effort. The short sight and pale 
faces are inevitable, but they are by no means uni- 
versal, and it is very rare — far rarer than among 
the boys — that a girl sustains serious or incurable 
injury from her school time. She seems made of 
iron, without nerves, without the need for relaxa- 
tion or rest. She can go on and on and still retain 
a very remarkable mental agility and elasticity. 

As I write the picture of two typical school-girls 
whom I met on a recent visit rises before my mind's 
eye. The one attends a Gymnasium for boys and 
girls, the other the town school, and their work 
hours, for our ideas, are preposterous. Yet a live- 
lier, brighter, more intelligent couple I have rarely 
had the pleasure of encountering. They seemed ab- 
solutely irrepressible and remarkably healthy. 
What was more, their work had no terrors for 
them ; one heard no lamentations that the holidays 
were at an end. The Gymnastian even took the 
opportunity to learn all the English she could, fill- 
ing up her spare moments with an English gram- 
mar, and experimenting on me with the result of 



306 THE GERMANS 

her researches. The other could already talk 
English fluently and with very little accent, besides 
French, Italian, and Greek, and seemed to have a 
wide and definite knowledge on subjects which, for 
an English girl of the same age, would have been 
closed books. It was indeed difficult to believe 
that they were only fourteen and fifteen respec- 
tively, their ideas, their attitude toward life and 
toward their work was precocious, but not unpleas- 
antly so. Somehow or other they had retained 
their high spirits; they could dance well, and en- 
joyed a certain amount of exercise, though games 
played no important part in their program. 

It was obvious that their work was the chief thing, 
and absorbed the chief part of their interests. They 
did not go to school because they had to, because 
school is a necessary evil attendant on youth. Their 
work was something serious, the cultivation of the 
mind something intensely desirable. In all this 
they were encouraged by their parents, who would 
never have been satisfied with a polite "polish." 
They also took work seriously, and should their 
children desire to continue their studies or develop 
a particular talent they would gladly open the 
road for them. Thus the one girl will probably 
devote herself to music, as her elder sister has 



EDUCATION 307 

devoted herself to art, and, as her sister, when the 
time comes she will study away from home. In the 
meantime she continues her ordinary education 
with energy, and seems to find a decided satisfac- 
tion in the effort. 

This attitude toward their studies provides the 
explanation — or a part explanation — for the Ger- 
man girl's educational superiority. She learns will- 
ingly, with an avidity which can not be exhausted. 
The proof of this is to be found in the voluntary 
continuation of her work after her school-days are 
over. The numberless lectures which are held in 
Karlsruhe during the year are crowded by women 
and young girls who have just left school; the 
Kranzchen, of which I have already spoken, where 
they meet together either to read or speak some for- 
eign tongue, are all organized out of the need to go 
on with, or at any rate keep up, what they have 
learned, and this need continues right through 
their life. At a time when the English woman will 
laughingly tell you, "Oh, I have forgotten all that 
— my school-days are so far behind me," the Ger- 
man woman will be able to display a mind kept 
bright with patient, steadfast, intellectual burnish- 
ing. 

I do not wish to put the case in a more bril- 



3 o8 THE GERMANS 

liant light than the truth admits. I know some very 
dull and stupid German women, and some whose 
knowledge consists of a few showy foreign sen- 
tences; what I wish to convey is, that taking an 
averagely intelligent type from both races, the Ger- 
man woman has the broader intellectual outlook 
and the firmer intellectual basis. No doubt she 
pays for it. However full of interest her school- 
days may have been, they can not have been the 
happy, cloudless, irresponsible days which the 
English woman can look back upon in after-life, 
and she has, like her brother, the failings which a 
home upbringing entails — not, however, to the 
same extent as an English girl has under the same 
circumstances. 

It is one of the faults of the German schools 
that they make no endeavor whatever to build up 
character, and make no pretense of doing so. They 
occupy themselves solely with the brains, and not 
at all with the whole individuality, of those en- 
trusted to them, and consequently their influence is 
entirely negative. A German boy or girl takes after 
his home, not after his school. Fortunately the 
German home life is such as to ward off the chief 
failings which an English home upbringing us- 
ually entails. English parents, perhaps accustomed 



EDUCATION 309 

to ieaving the disagreeable severities to others, err 
on the side of weakness, and when from one cause 
or another their children are brought up entirely 
at home, the result is very often pampered weak- 
lings. German parents, on the other hand, with 
the whole responsibility of their children's char- 
acters upon their shoulders, maintain a certain 
Spartan rigor and severity which atones for the 
lack of public school discipline, and the hardening, 
strengthening influence of public school life. The 
system is not without its advantages. The German 
claims, not without justification, that his home is 
not so quickly or easily broken up, that his children, 
living constantly at home in their most sensitive 
years, remain his children to the end of their lives. 
In England, he says, a girl is sent away from home 
and passes into another sphere of influence. When 
she comes back she can not find her place in the 
old world, and either the family has to yield to her 
new views or there are all too frequent dissensions. 

"You teach your children to be independent of 
you, and then afterward want to tie them down to 
your way of living," a German once said to me. 
"What can you expect but trouble?" 

The German boy and girl remain closely united 
to the family until their tastes and opinions are 



3 io THE GERMANS 

formed on the family lines, and the advantage to 
the family unity in after life is obvious. 

On the whole, the German method of education 
springs from the needs of the German character 
and mind, and its errors, therefore, are not so dis- 
astrous as they would be in other countries, and its 
virtues are undoubtedly more successful. It would 
be as great an absurdity to transplant German edu- 
cation on to English soil as it would be to trans- 
plant English ideas on to German. The English 
constitution would break down under the strain, 
and the English character would revolt against the 
inflexibility of the system, but, as the Germans have 
learned from us, so it is surely possible for us to 
learn from them. The saying that the battle of 
Waterloo was won on the playing-fields of Eton 
has become dangerous; it may have been true of 
Waterloo — it will not be true of the future battles 
of the world. In the future more will be required 
of the soldier than mere physical prowess, daring, 
and courage ; he will have to be mentally trained to 
master the most difficult problems of modern war- 
fare, and if the German wins it will be because he 
has combined physical culture with a strenuous de- 
votion to his mental advancement. He is physi- 
cally and mentally prepared. And if the strain 




One of the Old Round Towers in wall of ancient Nuremberg 



EDUCATION 311 

which he puts upon himself and the standard 
which he has set crushes many out of the race, it 
has this advantage, that only those win who are 
really worthy of their success. 

The high store which is set upon education seems 
to penetrate down to the lowest classes in Germany. 
There are, of course, the free Volkschule — board 
schools — and supplementary schools for those who 
wish to study after their compulsory school time is 
over, but these features are common to most civil- 
ized countries. The point that is peculiar in Ger- 
many is not the provision for the education of the 
masses, but the eagerness with which the provision 
is seized upon. I mentioned in my last chapter that 
a Society was giving a Bach concert for the benefit 
of the working-man — that is to say, the working- 
man had to pay 20 pf. for his reserved seat, while 
we, the ordinary folk, had to pay 50 pf. and take 
our chance. 

When I first heard of the idea I was not a lit- 
tle skeptical. I was told that the concert was ar- 
ranged by a kind of workman's debating club, 
which usually occupied itself with all the ques- 
tions of interest in art, politics, and social econ- 
omy, under the guidance of various professors. I 
asked what class of workman was most represented. 



312 THE GERMANS 

We were at the time walking in the Krieg Strasse, 
at six o'clock in the evening, when the factories out- 
side the town discharge their workers, who stream 
through the west end to their east end homes. As 
a rule I avoid that time of the day. The crowd is 
quiet enough, but it is undoubtedly a crowd, and 
the results of the day's toil are very obvious. My 
friend indicated a group that was trudging toward 
us, dirty, weary, and dilapidated. 

"Those are the sort of people you will see on 
Sunday evening," she said. My doubts thereupon 
increased, for the grimy, rough-looking folk did 
not at all strike me in the light of possible Bach ad- 
mirers. I have myself only just reached the stage 
— after much education — when I can say with 
truth that I enjoy listening to fugues and cantatas, 
and it seemed almost insulting to be told that these 
factory workers knew more about such things than 
I did. On Sunday, when I took my place at the 
back of the church, I felt inclined to say, "I told 
you so! Where are the factory workers now?" The 
reserved places were filled with a neatly dressed, 
freshly washed audience, evidently belonging to the 
small tradesman class. To tell the truth, there was 
not a perceptible difference between them and the 



EDUCATION 313 

usual Sunday morning congregation, except that 
they did not cough so much. 

"These are the factory people in their best," I 
was told, and indeed such proved to be the case, for 
out of the one thousand, two hundred present, nine 
hundred were ordinary day laborers engaged either 
in the factories or on the railway. 

The concert, with a preceding lecture on Bach's 
life and work, lasted over two hours, but there was 
not a sign of weariness or boredom. A better be- 
haved audience could not have been wished, and I 
have no doubt lecturer and performers would be 
proud if they received the same courteous attention 
and interest from their usual more fashionable hear- 
ers. Now, as I know from experience, a lecture on 
Bach, with a following hour of the music itself, re- 
quires a certain mental ripeness, a certain amount of 
trained intelligence, to be appreciated, and I have 
since asked myself — or rather others — whether it is 
the training or the intelligence which has brought 
the German workman to such a high standard. 

As regards the training, I have already men- 
tioned the ordinary Volkschule, which must be 
attended up to the fourteenth year. The education 
provided is no doubt the usual State education, but 



314 THE GERMANS 

the great virtue of the German system is its con- 
tinuation. And the continuation is owed to the 
people themselves. It is the people who make use 
of the supplementary schools, of the instruction 
offered them during their two years with the col- 
ors. It is the people who form debating societies, 
who seek by every means in their power to con- 
tinue with the foundations set up by the com- 
pulsory education of the State. The hunger after 
learning is felt everywhere and shows itself every- 
where, and it must be said to the credit of those in 
power that everything is done to satisfy the demand. 
In this respect South Germany is the advance 
guard, with little Baden as its guide and example. 
As I have mentioned before, the South German of 
every class is quicker and more intelligent than his 
Northern brother, and consequently, the need be- 
ing there, far more is done for him. And certainly 
in no other State is so much done for the mental im- 
provement of the lower classes as in Baden. 

"If only we had such interesting lectures and 
concerts offered us!" is the whimsical complaint of 
the middle classes ; but, as a matter of fact, the peo- 
ple are not spoiled, they are not the pampered chil- 
dren of a crazy philanthropy, which produces 
nothing but weaklings and beggars. As in other 



EDUCATION 315 

matters, so in his education, the German workman 
is self-supporting. However little he pays, he at 
least pays something toward his mental improve- 
ment. It is only a question of a few pfennige, 
which no doubt charity would be quite willing to 
pay for him, but wisdom has ordered, "Let him pay 
it himself!" And that he does pay, and pays will- 
ingly, is proof that he is worthy of the efforts made 
on his behalf, and lifts the man higher in his own 
self-respect and in the esteem of the world. 

A little while ago I asked, Why do foreigners 
still persist in settling in this expensive country? 
and I have now another and more definitive an- 
swer: They come for the education. Everything 
which has to do with education is to be had for a 
comparative trifle. 

"Food, clothing, and lodging are preposterous," 
a Polish student once said to me ; "but you can get 
the finest education in the world in any branch you 
like for next to nothing." 

He was right; and since the average German 
cares very little about elegance and fine living, he 
takes what is offered him and is satisfied. The 
Conservatoriums, Art Schools, and Universities are 
crowded with people who look as though they 
could not afford the bare necessities of life, and 



3 i6 THE GERMANS 

probably such is really the case. Probably they can 
not afford nourishing food or sufficient clothes, but 
they can afford education. Education is, in fact, 
the one thing which every German must have and 
every German can afford. 

"If we were all soul and mind, what a lovely 
cheap place Germany would be!" as my English 
friend once pathetically observed, 



CHAPTER XVII 

THE POOR IN TOWN AND COUNTRY 

My English friend, who has settled in Germany 
for economy's sake, is very often puzzled by pro- 
found problems. 

"How do the poor people manage to exist?" she 
demanded one day. "For instance, I can not buy 
a good piece of meat under i mark 50 pf. the 
pound. How do they manage? Do they get 
double wages or what?" 

"They certainly don't get double wages." 

"Don't they eat meat, then?" 

"They eat sausage." 

"Not proper meat?" 

"Sometimes — sometimes horseflesh." 

She looked at me with an expression on her face 
which said plainly, "Then the awful thing is really 
true !" and then asked : 

"Where — where do they buy it?" 

"At the shop. There are four horse-meat shops 
in Karlsruhe. Would you like me to buy you 

some?" 

3i7 



318 THE GERMANS 

She repressed a shudder, and then, curiosity get- 
ting the better of disgust, she admitted that she 
would just like to see a piece. I thereupon plunged 
into the so-called slums and procured a pound of 
the best horseflesh for the sum of 15 pf. The shop 
was crowded with purchasers, and by no means of 
the poorest class, and everything was as clean and 
appetizing as in any ordinary butcher's. I re- 
turned home with my purchase and displayed it in 
triumph. My English friend considered it at first 
with strong prejudice, and afterward with a tend- 
ency to relent. 

"It doesn't look so bad. Do they really like it?" 
I told her that I believed so, that in fact it was 
in many cases far better meat than that which our 
own people eat, and suggested that she should try a 
piece. Her curiosity, however, had its limits, but 
it was evident that the horseflesh bogey had lost 
something of its blood-curdling effectiveness as far 
as she was concerned. I had not exaggerated in 
saying that a piece of young horseflesh is equal to 
the stuff sold to our poor as beef, and there is no 
secrecy made about its sale. The shops at which it 
can be procured describe themselves faithfully as 
"Pferdefleisch Handler," and the people who buy 
know perfectly well what they are doing. 



THE POOR 319 

In Polizei Deutchland it would be impossible 
for a butcher to cheat his customers, and the talk 
about horse-meat sausages, etc., is pure nonsense. 
No doubt there are horse-meat sausages, but the 
people who buy them have no illusions on the mat- 
ter. As a rule, however, the cheap sausage eaten by 
the people is composed of the waste pieces of veal, 
mutton and beef of which the butcher can make no 
other use. All the slaughter-houses are under the 
strictest control, and the punishment for fraud in 
this respect is so heavy that it is worth nobody's 
while to run the risk of passing bad or inferior meat 
on to the public under a false designation. On the 
whole the German — especially the South German 
— is not a very great meat eater. Even if he could 
afford to buy the best, I doubt if he would forsake 
his usual menu, which consists for the most part of 
potatoes, fish, sausage, and bread — not the so-called 
"black bread" of which we have heard so much. 

The South German, it must be observed, is better 
off and more luxurious than the North German. 
Consequently his food is more delicate, and the 
black bread of North Germany is not eaten in these 
parts. The ordinary workman eats either white 
bread or a mixture of rye and wheat, which makes 
not the slightest pretensions to being black. It is a 



320 THE GERMANS 

light brown color, nourishing, cheap, somewhat in- 
digestible, but for a sturdy constitution quite enjoy- 
able. The richest people have it on their tables, 
and it forms an excellent change when one is weary 
of the more delicate Brotchens. In North Ger- 
many "black bread" is eaten, but the British work- 
man need waste no sympathy on his ill-used 
German cousin on that account. The German 
cousin is perfectly satisfied with his black bread, 
and would no doubt find wheat bread both flat and 
uninteresting. In fact the German, whether from 
north or south, is not very particular about his food. 
He eats because he is hungry, and as long as what 
he eats sustains and nourishes him, he does not care 
what the quality is. Nothing, for instance, could 
be more simple than the fare with which an ordi- 
nary German servant is satisfied. For breakfast a cup 
of coffee, a piece of bread without butter; for din- 
ner, soup, meat, and potatoes ; for tea, again plain 
bread; for supper, a piece of sausage, a glass of 
beer, and more bread. Such is the daily menu. If 
they are given puddings, it is regarded as a luxury 
which they neither expect nor particularly appre- 
ciate. On this food they perform about double the 
work which an English domestic accomplishes, re- 
ceive lower wages, and are cheerful and contented. 



THE POOR 321 

A German servant is really a treasure, and that 
she is very difficult to transplant is a fact which 
English people who have experienced her honesty, 
industry, and modesty regret bitterly. Since in my 
"German Year" I wish to describe, as much as pos- 
sible, only what I have actually seen, I can not do 
better than take our own servants and their families 
as typical types of the lower classes. Their method 
of living, their wages, and their condition form a 
safe average from which one can judge the whole 
German people. Some are better off, some poorer, 
but the great mass follow the middle path, which 
I shall attempt to describe. 

For something like ten years our servants have 
all been recruited from the same family. We 
started with the two eldest sisters, who, of course, 
got married, and we have at present the younger 
members, who, of course, are going to get married 
as soon as the necessary dot is there. The husbands 
of the eldest sisters are workmen on the railway 
here, so that we have every opportunity to study 
their ways and means. I will, however, begin at 
the beginning, and finish up, as in the novels, with 
the married state. Our young cook, then, is what 
we in England would call a good plain cook. She 
can not perform any great culinary feats, but she is 



322 THE GERMANS 

to be relied upon with all ordinary matters; and if 
ever there should happen to be a pinch too much or 
a pinch too little salt in the soup, she is so con- 
science-stricken and wretched that we hide the dis- 
aster from her by every means in our power. For 
her labors on our behalf she receives £18 a year. 
A first-class cook gets from £20 to £23, but our 
Freda makes no pretensions to being anything else 
but plain. Her sister, as housemaid, receives £15, 
and is the most hard-working person I have ever 
met. She keeps our ten rooms in perfect order, and 
no matter how many guests we may have she rises 
to the occasion with a cheery good-will which is 
quite refreshing. At such times, as an ease to our 
conscience, we insist on having a small boy to do 
the heavier work, but she looks upon him with un- 
concealed contempt, and on his assistance as a 
veiled insult. 

Their daily food I have already described. 
Their dress is simplicity itself. Both object 
strongly to black dresses and cap and apron, and 
will only assume these articles of elegance on great 
occasions. On Sundays both appear very neatly 
and quietly attired, and with the addition of the 
hat, which in every-day life is discarded. A Ger- 
man servant, no matter how superior, would not 



THE POOR 323 

think of going to market with anything but a shawl 
over her head, and, as a rule, not even a shawl is 
used. Both girls are intelligent, with an average 
share of common sense, or "Mutterwitz," as they 
would call it, but neither have manifested any de- 
sire to play the piano, ride our bicycles, or read 
our latest novels. Their pleasures consist of a Sun- 
day afternoon visit to their married relations, a 
walk in the Stadtgarten with their friends, and a 
glass of beer while they listen to the band — this, 
however, as a luxury. Once a year we send them to 
the theater, and once a year their Schatz takes them 
to the Kaiser Ball, and these are the red-letter 
events. It is little enough, and yet they are the 
cheeriest couple in the world, and in spite of their 
low wages they have saved quite a nice little sum — 
nearly the required £50. At Christmas, it is true, 
we give them money as presents, and this adds con- 
siderably to the nest-egg. 

Besides their wages, we also pay their share to 
the compulsory accident, illness, and old-age insur- 
ance. We are not obliged to do so, but if we did 
not it would mean that they would require more 
wages, so that it amounts to the same. Every work- 
ing man and woman in Germany must be in these 
three insurances, and the payments are arranged in 



324 THE GERMANS 

classes according to the wages received. Thus, 
whatever happens to our two girls, they are pro- 
vided for. In the case of illness or accident they 
can claim the attendance of any doctor they choose, 
hospital nursing, and all the medicines ordered for 
them, free of charge. Should they be disabled for 
life, they receive a pension which is in any case 
granted them from their seventh year. Half of the 
payments to these insurances must be paid by the 
employer, the other half by the employee, but very 
often, like ourselves, the employer prefers to take 
the whole burden upon his shoulders. For our two 
servants we pay about sixty marks a year, which, if 
an additional tax, is more than balanced by the low 
wages and also by the satisfaction of knowing that 
we are free from all responsibility. Should they 
marry and become independent, they can, if they 
wish, cease to belong to the insurances, and receive 
then the half of that which they have already paid 
in. The wise ones, however, prefer to continue the 
payments, and thus guarantee for themselves a cer- 
tain security in all misfortune. 

As to the way the poorer classes live, I can not 
do better than describe the homes of our two old 
servants. Bien-entendu, they are respectable, hard- 
working people of a certain position — that is to say, 



THE POOR 325 

they count themselves something better than the 
day laborer or factory hand. The husband of the 
one is a shunter on the railway, and therefore, if 
you argue it out on German lines, a State official, 
and therefore a very superior person. His hours 
vary: every third night he is on duty from nine 
o'clock till six o'clock in the morning; on other 
days, from six in the morning till one o'clock; and 
for this he receives 4.50 per diem. As there are 
no children, the wife also goes out as "help" — not a 
charwoman — for which she is paid 2.50, though 
she could, if she chose, get more at a large laundry. 
Laundry work, however, infers a step downward in 
the social scale, and of course, like everybody else 
in Germany, she has too much "Standes Ehre" to 
lower herself for an extra 50 pf. Their joint in- 
come, therefore, is about 2660 marks, or £133, but 
of this only the husband's share — £82 — is certain. 
For' their bedroom, living-room, and kitchen they 
pay £16 a year, and added to this is their income 
tax of about £2, and a small sum for their insur- 
ances. 

They live comfortably, but, for English ideas, 
frugally. There is no extravagance or luxury 
in their life. Their little rooms on the third 
floor in a decent part of the town, though kept in 



326 THE GERMANS 

scrupulous cleanliness and order, and brightened 
with a few plants on the window-sill, contain noth- 
ing but the respectable necessities. In all this they 
are typical German people. Others may be worse 
or better paid, according to their trade and abil- 
ities, but in thrift, in abstemiousness, in a certain 
Spartan indifference to all forms of luxury and 
self-indulgence, they represent the great bulk of the 
lower classes. In their sphere of life, as every- 
where, money is, after all, a small matter compared 
to the use made of it. Were the English workman 
twice as well paid as the German, it is doubtful if 
he would be as well off or so well provided for. He 
has learned — or been taught — to depend on charity, 
and to expect more than his position in the social 
system warrants, and the consequence is a dislike 
for work, discontent, thriftlessness, or at any rate 
a financial state which provides nothing for a rainy 
to-morrow. The German is still, and for the bene- 
fit of his country it is to be hoped he will remain, 
a hard worker, who asks less than life offers him. 
The consequence is as inevitable. When the rainy 
day comes, when work fails, as it does often enough, 
there is always something to fall back upon. 

In Germany the misery which we have grown to 
regard as a necessary evil is remarkable for its ab- 




The man in the gateway 



mechanic earning $1.25 a day 



association of workmen he bought and is paying for 



this 



Through an 
$2000 house 



THE POOR 327 

sence. During last winter there were five hundred 
workmen out of employment in Karlsruhe — an un- 
usually large number, I was told — but I did not in 
all my wanderings discover one case of absolute 
destitution. The unemployed were all men, neatly 
dressed, well fed and respectable-looking. I used 
to watch them standing about the Arbeitsbureau 
waiting for the doors to open, and their appearance 
seemed to indicate a calm patience in the face of a 
temporary "bad time." Certainly none of them 
looked starved, and certainly none of them had 
spent the night out of doors. It was noteworthy that 
not a single woman presented herself as being un- 
able to obtain work. It may be said with justice 
that a residenz like Karlsruhe is not a fair ex- 
ample, but in other towns I have made the same ob- 
servations. Unemployed exist everywhere, but 
nowhere have I witnessed cases of real distress. 

The feature that must strike the foreigner when 
he walks through the streets of a German city is 
that there are no loafers, no ragged children, no 
beggars. The slouching, hands-in-pocket, miser- 
able objects which infest our towns, trying to pick 
up a livelihood with stray jobs, are rarities such as 
I have not met anywhere in this country. No doubt 
the State does a great deal for the people, but, be 



328 THE GERMANS 

it said to their credit, they owe their comparative 
welfare chiefly to themselves. It is unusual for a 
workman to drink away his wages, still more un- 
usual for the woman to do so, and the whole ten- 
dency is to save, to force the way upward so that 
the children shall start life a step higher than the 
parents. 

As to the children, Karlsruhe at least seems to 
swarm with them, and I am not at all surprised 
to hear that Germany's population is increasing 
at the rate of a million a year. On the whole, they 
are an orderly crowd, clean and neatly dressed, 
with nothing of the ragamuffin about them either in 
appearance or manners. They do not, however, 
strike me as being particularly healthy. Whether 
it is the dry climate, or the work, or the food, I do 
not know, but a pair of rosy cheeks is the exception 
rather than the rule. I fancy the parents are chiefly 
to blame both for the pale faces and the bow legs 
which attract the stranger's notice. For German 
parents belonging to the lower classes, if very de- 
voted, have decidedly old-fashioned and primitive 
ideas as regards the rearing of children, and are not 
easy to convert to modern ways. Fortunately, the 
results of their experiments seem to pass off later on 
in life, since the grown-up population presents, on 



THE POOR 329 

the whole, a sturdy, healthy, and even handsome 
appearance. 

In the more remote parts of the country, as in 
the Black Forest, the case is more serious. The 
Black Forest peasant is more than old-fashioned — 
in his ideas on health and hygiene he dates back a 
couple of hundred years, and, conservative as he is, 
he refuses to be hurried on with the times. He 
shuts himself up in his picturesque house, closes the 
tiny windows, and while the thick snow builds 
itself round him, he lives in an atmosphere which 
would ruin all normal constitutions. I once made 
an observation on the closed windows to a friend, 
and her significant retort was that perhaps it was 
just as well for the Black Forest. Certainly, 
charming though they are, perched up in their 
loneliness on the mountain-side, these forest homes 
leave much to be desired as regards hygiene, and 
not even the magnificent pine air can counterbal- 
ance the effects of the peasant's mode of life. Nat- 
urally the children suffer the most. They are badly 
fed, not because their parents are poor, but because 
the children are expected to grow up without any 
particular care being taken of them. The Black 
Forester is even reproached with giving more at- 
tention to his pigs than to his offspring, and I have 



330 THE GERMANS 

not the least doubt that of the two the pigs get the 
best food. 

Thanks to this and other causes, there is a cer- 
tain amount of Cretinism in the more secluded vil- 
lages, and the young populace impress me as either 
unhealthy or dull and stupid. There are excep- 
tions, of course, and among the grown-up members 
one sometimes finds charming girls' faces and men 
whose bold, finely cut features might belong to 
aristocrats of the purest blood. In their way many 
of them are aristocrats and often very rich into the 
bargain. Their Hof or farm may have been in the 
family for generations, and since they never allow 
their children to marry into a poorer or lower class, 
their wealth and position increase steadily. They 
are intensely proud, reserved, gloomy, and tena- 
cious, these Black Forest folk, but their obstinacy 
is mingled with a decided business ability, and the 
man who beats them in a bargain has good reason 
to flatter himself. On the other hand they are 
strictly honest, and behind their slowness and re- 
serve, kindly and hospitable. Their geographical 
position added to their natural exclusiveness has 
made them a race apart — altogether different in 
character and ideas to the people who inhabit the 
lowland villages, the most fascinating, picturesque 
villages in the world. 



THE POOR 331 

This spring a few friends and I paid a visit to 
Berghausen, a little country "Nest" a few miles 
from Karlsruhe, and spent the day wandering 
about the streets, making sketches, taking photo- 
graphs, talking to the people, and, generally speak- 
ing, causing a mild sensation among the simple 
folk, who inquired politely if they might have a 
photo, or a look into the sketch-books, whereupon, 
the latter boon being granted, they expressed the 
profoundest admiration in true German fashion. 
That they usually held the picture upside down 
made not the slightest difference to them, though it 
successfully dampened the artist's gratification. 
These people and their home have for me an inex- 
haustible attraction — in spite of the sometimes very 
noticeable countrified atmosphere. There are little 
by-streets and quaint corners in this old Berg- 
hausen, whose charm never diminishes. The world 
seems to have passed them by forgotten; the dust of 
ages lies on the old rickety staircases ; worm-eaten 
doors hang on their rusty hinges as though they had 
been thrown open by some inhabitant who had 
never returned; a sunny peace rests on the disor- 
derly courtyard, where a cat basks on a bed of 
straw amidst a contented family of geese ; overhead 
on the thatched roof I can see a stork's nest, and 



332 THE GERMANS 

Frau Storch herself, just arrived from Egypt and 
very proud of the accommodation which the vil- 
lagers — who love her — have prepared for her re- 
turn. Suddenly the drowsy silence is broken by the 
sound of shuffling footsteps ; a woman comes out on 
the narrow stairway and nods and smiles at us. 

"Tag! Ah, you have come to paint? J a, J a, das 
istschon!" 

Encouraged by her kindly face and manner, I 
ask her to show us over her home, and she takes us 
through the minute kitchen into the sitting-room, 
and thence into the bedroom — the two rooms which 
compose her home. Everything is spotlessly clean 
and neat. A motto — no German home is complete 
without a motto — hangs over the wooden bedsteads ; 
a few flower-pots stand on the tiny window-sill ; im- 
maculate white curtains frame the absurd little 
windows, which are thrown wide open to admit the 
fresh spring air. Our hostess is very proud of all 
she has to show us, and only regrets that her neigh- 
bors are not at home. 

"Their rooms are much, much more beautiful," 
she says, with sincere, unenvying admiration. She 
then produces her three small children, who have 
been playing about in the street outside. There was 
a fourth, she told us, but he was at school. 



THE POOR 333 

"I am happier when he is at home," she said, 
"for then he looks after his little sisters." 

That, indeed, seems the natural duty of all the 
boys, however young they may be. At every corner 
one sees a mite of seven or eight years old in charge 
of a small army of babies, over whom he watches 
with paternal solicitude. He and the babies form 
an altogether charming picture. They are just 
dirty enough to be amusingly human, and just clean 
enough to reveal the fact that they are washed every 
night and carefully looked after. Some of the small 
faces are strikingly pretty, with rosy complexions, 
flaxen hair arranged in ridiculous little plaits, and, 
like most of their race, fine, expressive eyes. Some 
of them are barefooted and otherwise scantily clad, 
but that is merely their summer attire, which they 
assume because it is an agreeable fashion, and not 
in the least because they are poor. The round, 
healthy cheeks and sturdy limbs witness to it that 
they are not starved ; and the frankness with which 
our advances are received, the broad smiles and 
quick answers, prove that hitherto the world had 
treated them very kindly. Some of the little girls 
display a calculated coquettishness, refuse to be 
photographed, are visibly delighted over our hum- 



334 THE GERMANS 

ble pleadings, at last yield with queenly condescen- 
sion, and pose for us with a strong eye for effect. 

Having photographed and properly admired our 
hostess' family, we give her our best thanks and go 
back to the principal street. It is not "the thing" 
to offer a peasant money on such an occasion. She 
would have refused it with scorn, and we should 
certainly have sunk in her estimation. She had in- 
vited us as friends, and so as friends we part. 

In the street a change has taken place. A Doodle- 
sack Spieler (bagpipe player) has taken his stand 
outside one of the Gasthaiiser, and a little crowd 
has gathered to listen to his lugubrious melodies. 
The crowd reveals many types. There is the 
peasant himself, just returned from the fields, top- 
booted, roughly dressed, but with a bronzed, pleas- 
ant face. At his side stands his wife, looking 
considerably older, but cheery and laughing, with 
her arms akimbo, her eyes twinkling good-natur- 
edly at the bevy of urchins who dance about or 
stand in awestruck interest. Others pass on their 
way without condescending to listen. Women bear- 
ing heavy faggots on their heads, old women, the 
grandmothers of the village one would suppose, 
pass with their iron rake over their shoulders, and 
look neither to the right nor to the left. They are 




Women gathering barley 



THE POOR 335 

all dressed alike, a short, loose-fitting jacket, short 
blue skirt and sabots forming the chief articles of 
their attire. We see some fine faces among them 
in spite of the thin colorless hair drawn straight 
back and pinned in an inartistic but neat coil at the 
nape of the neck. Weather-beaten, toil-worn, and 
wrinkled though they are, there is character in the 
boldly cut aquiline features and piercing gray eyes 
which smile at you from amidst the furrows. That 
is a point which strikes the stranger first — every- 
body smiles at you, everybody nods and wishes you 
good-day, and if you want to know anything they 
are all eagerness and goodwill. We have not been 
more than a few hours in the village before we are 
the best of friends all round. However, tea-time ap- 
proaches, and we betake ourselves to the most fa- 
mous inn of the village — the Gasthaus zum Laub. 

It is a wonderful old place, with a courtyard 
surrounded by quaint oak galleries through whose 
trellises flowers have been trained to blossom. A 
tame stork, wandering in majestically from the 
garden, greets us with a loud beak-clapping which 
immediately calls forth mine host himself. Mine 
host is one of the aristocrats ; he can trace his de- 
scent straight back two hundred years, during 
which time the inn has always been in the posses- 



336 THE GERMANS 

sion of his family. He is a fine old fellow, with 
white hair, bright eyes, an eagle nose, and manners 
in which there is a certain dignity, a certain con- 
sciousness of his position and birth. The inn is his 
pride, his heirloom. He shows us the low-built 
dining-room with the handsome carved oak pillars 
and wainscoting, the pictures presented to him by 
famous artists, and all his particular little treasures, 
very much as a grand seigneur might show you his 
chateau. We become quite awestruck, and feel as 
though it would be an insult to suggest paying for 
the meal of excellent bread and honey and bad 
coffee which he spreads before us. He, too, seems 
to feel the painfulness of such a low business trans- 
action, for he disappears when the bill is called for, 
and a servant performs the unpleasant task. Cer- 
tainly we have had our money's worth, and one 
thing I can vouch for — namely, that the peasant 
fare, as set before us by our host, is substantial and 
nourishing. When one has devoured a piece of 
country bread one inch thick and five inches by 
seven, with an enormous piece of butter and any 
quantity of honey, one feels fit to face the next week 
or two without further sustenance. Thus strength- 
ened we repair to the small station, and presently 
leave the village regretfully behind us. 



THE POOR 337 

Its great charm is that it is a genuine village, as 
there are hundreds in South Germany; there are no 
squires or "Manor people" to fuss over the in- 
habitants, who live their lives in peace. In North 
Germany the matter is different. There the great 
"Gutsbesitzer" plays the part of lord, and the vil- 
lagers to all intents and purposes "belong" to him, 
but in this part of the world the great estate owners 
can be counted on one hand. For the most part the 
country is divided into minute pocket-handkerchief 
plots of land, without hedge or fence, which is the 
property of the peasant himself, and over which he 
disposes in complete independence. The cultiva- 
tion of his plot is his great work in life, and his 
whole family assists him, the women taking their 
full share of the burden. For the foreigner it is 
at first a curious and almost painful sight to see 
these women toiling in the fields beneath the blaze 
of the summer sun, their white head-dress drawn 
over their bronzed, furrowed faces, their shoulders 
hunched through the long, continuous stooping. 

It is no wonder there are so few young women 
to be found in a German village. The charming 
barefooted little girls who play about in the chief 
street vanish from their fourteenth year. One sea- 
son's toil is enough to rub off the first bloom of 



338 THE GERMANS 

youth, and at twenty they are usually married and 
have children of their own to add to their burden. 
Gaunt, figureless, roughly clad, with sunken eyes 
and sharp features, the colorless hair scraped 
straight back from the deeply lined foreheads, they 
might be anything between thirty and forty years 
of age, and seem to exist solely to labor, without 
any pleasure or recompense save the daily bread. 

To all intents and purposes the woman plays the 
same part as her husband, save that child-bearing 
is added to her other burdens. She works as hard 
as he does, and during the years when her brothers 
are serving, the chief responsibility rests on her 
shoulders. That she ages before her time is inevi- 
table. A German village seems full of old women, 
but they are not really old — they are sometimes 
quite young, but with their youth crushed out of 
them by the stress of their existence. It must not be 
supposed that the man does not take his share, or 
that the women are nothing but beasts of burden. 
The former does not, and can not, spare himself; 
it is not his fault that in the hard struggle he has to 
make use of every assistance in his power, and the 
woman, on her side, being a true German, stands 
by him loyally and willingly. There are indeed 
fine men and fine women in these old villages, and 



THE POOR 339 

their cheery endurance, their good-humor, intelli- 
gence, and courage, is a revelation of the power of 
the human character to rise to the level of the task 
imposed upon it. 

So much for the dark side of the picture. There 
is a bright side — perhaps much brighter than the 
stranger would think after a casual stroll through 
a German village. He must not be misled by the 
tumble-down houses and barefooted children. It 
is very often not poverty but indifference to com- 
fort which makes the peasant live as he does. He 
asks very little of life. Enough to eat, a clean room 
to live in, a wife and children, and his ideal exist- 
ence is already attained. As a rule these peasant 
families are very happy and peaceful. The man is 
a steady worker and a good father, the woman his 
cheery, industrious comrade. There is nothing 
cringing or browbeaten about either of them — 
rather their manner is frank, sincere, not untouched 
with a certain pride, perhaps the pride of honest 
labor honestly accomplished. Their work is their 
life, and in the peaceful fulfilment of the duty near- 
est to hand they find their reward and their happi- 
ness. May the jerry-builder of "reform cottages" 
and all social reformers in general leave them their 
peace! 



340 THE GERMANS 

Since I have just dealt with matters rural, it 
would be perhaps fitting to add a few words on 
ordinary country life in Germany, which, as far as 
South Germany is concerned, is a paradox, since 
country life, at any rate in our meaning of the term, 
is non-existent. In North Germany the great land- 
owners live on their estates, and the social inter- 
course between them resembles our own, but here 
no one lives in the country who can possibly afford 
to live elsewhere. Beautiful country houses are 
practically unknown, or only used for short periods 
in the year by the very wealthy; and anybody wish- 
ing to live out of town would have to reconcile him- 
self to complete isolation from his own class. There 
is no hunting; shooting is the sport of the few; in a 
word, all the attractions which bring English house 
parties together, and make country life enjoyable, 
play no part in this part of the world. Here the 
country belongs to the peasant, and in describing 
him I have described the one typical and predomi- 
nating element in South German rural life. 



CHAPTER XVIII 

NATIONAL SPIRIT 

In Karlsruhe I see so many royalties — Imperial 
and minor — that I feel quite as though I were in 
the Court Circle. Perhaps I have been particularly 
privileged in this respect, for in the time that I 
have been here the late Grand-Duke's jubilee, his 
lamented death, the Kaiser Manceuvers this year, 
and other similar important events have gathered 
together many crowned heads in the simple Karls- 
ruhe palace, and as Karlsruhe proper concentrates 
itself into quite a small circumference, it was 
scarcely possible to go outside the house without — 
figuratively-— running up against the Emperor or 
the Crown Prince or the Grand-Duke or some other 
potentate, so much so that I am now an adept at 
Hof Knixe, though they still cover my English soul 
with embarrassment. 

Familiarity breeds contempt. I do not think in 
this case that there is any question of contempt, but 
it is undoubtedly true that in Germany royalties do 
34i 



342 THE GERMANS 

not cause the same sensation as in England. One 
sees too many and too much of them. Here, for in- 
stance, one meets the Grand-Duke — the whole 
ducal family, in fact — walking along the streets, 
in the forest, shopping, riding, driving, in the the- 
ater, everywhere and at all times, so that an explo- 
sion of enthusiasm on every appearance would be 
embarrassing and exhausting. It is bad enough as 
it is, and I should think the constant acknowledg- 
ment of the bows and hat-lifting with which the 
Grand-Duke is greeted must considerably mar the 
pleasure of a walk through his capital. The same 
applies to other royalties. The Emperor comes at 
least twice a year on a visit; the Queen of Sweden 
spends a great part of her time at her native Court, 
and there is a constant va-et-vient of such great 
people, so that no one gets worked up to any pitch 
of excitement or interest when they make their ap- 
pearance. 

The first time I went to witness the arrival of the 
Emperor I was filled with eagerness, and was 
not a little disgusted at the reception accorded to 
him. A thin crowd, a general hat-lifting, a few 
cheers — that was all, and I came home with the im- 
pression that the Germans were either the most un- 
patriotic people I had ever met, or the Emperor the 



NATIONAL SPIRIT 343 

most unpopular monarch. After having witnessed 
the fourteenth arrival, however, I feel that neither 
supposition was correct. In the first place, my own 
eagerness has died a natural death. I have had the 
pleasure of sitting so many times vis-a-vis to his 
Imperial Majesty through the long Wagner operas, 
that I feel there is nothing to be gained by going to 
the station to witness his arrival. No doubt that is 
the wrong standpoint. I shall be told that the peo- 
ple should go to welcome, not to stare — which is 
very nice in theory, but unfortunately, like so many 
theories, finds but little popularity in the practice. 
The reason that a crowd gathers together when a 
great personage is expected is that they want to see 
the show and make a noise, and if the Emperor 
needs any consolation he may be sure that those 
who do witness his arrival are there simply and 
solely to welcome him. The usual noisy sightseers 
are not present — that is the only loss. 

Moreover, the German temperament must be 
taken into consideration before passing judgment. 
The German is an enthusiast, but an enthusiast of a 
very stolid type. There is not a grain of jingoism in 
his makeup, and when he breaks through the wall 
of seeming indifference, he does it in an orderly 
way, and only on really great occasions. Hence 



344 THE GERMANS 

the foreigner can be surprised in two ways — as I 
was. He can be surprised at the every-day coldness 
of the people as regards national matters, and at the 
passionate, profound feeling which answers to a 
great call. I had, for instance, no idea of the love 
and reverence in which the late Grand-Duke was 
held until his jubilee and his death. The one occa- 
sion was a revelation of an enthusiastic devotion 
which few rulers dare lay claim to, the other re- 
vealed a whole people plunged into mourning. It 
is the same in all the other branches of national 
feeling, and to this placidity of temperament must 
be added other ingredients which go to make up the 
German's own peculiar patriotism. Germany is 
the German's Fatherland, but the German is some- 
thing else besides a German. He is a Badener, a 
Bavarian, a Saxon, a Prussian, and his own particu- 
lar little Fatherland, his own particular sovereign, 
are, in every-day life, nearer and dearer to him 
than the whole great unity and its Imperial ruler. 
Here, and I suppose it is the same in every State, 
the Grand-Duke has the first place in the people's 
hearts, the Emperor the second. It is only natural 
that it should be so, and in many ways it has its 
great advantages. The Emperor is a splendid, far- 
off figure, ruling the destinies of the Empire; the 



NATIONAL SPIRIT 345 

Grand-Duke is the direct father of his people; he 
goes among them, lives among them, is present 
at all their festivities, shares in all their joys and 
sorrows, assists financially and by his presence in 
every social movement. There is no one, however 
small or insignificant, who is not, as it were, in 
touch with the ruling house, who is not within 
reach of the Grand-Duke's help and sympathy. I 
remember an amusing little incident which illus- 
trates this close relationship. At the late Grand- 
Duke's jubilee a number of peasants from the Black 
Forest, gay in their picturesque "Tracht," were be- 
ing marshalled past the Imperial visitors. The 
Empress observed among them a young fellow 
with a large bouquet of wild flowers, who hesitated 
before her, evidently covered with embarrassment. 
Believing that the flowers were intended for her, 
and wishing to help him out of his difficulty, she 
smilingly stretched out her hand. The boy shook 
his head with great determination, and pointed at 
the Grand-Duke. 

"Dem do!" ("For him there!") he said, and 
pushing past the Empress thrust his gift into his 
own ruler's hand. He did not mean any rudeness — 
it seemed only natural to him that his Grand-Duke 
should have the first and the best. It was only a 



346 THE GERMANS 

little thing, but it typified the attitude of the people 
as a whole. The Imperial family is held in awe and 
respect, but the Grand-Duke is their very own. 

One hears a great deal about Socialism in Ger- 
many — or at least one reads a great deal about it — 
and from the number of seats which that party has 
won in the Reichstag, and from the meetings which 
are held, one would suppose that it was a very 
mighty party indeed. So it is — but not to the extent 
which the Socialists flatter themselves. There are 
two things which make the Socialist party appear 
stronger than it really is. The first is that the mid- 
dle-class German, the patriotic and Imperial Ger- 
man, takes no interest in politics, and is very 
difficult to rouse to action. Thus, while the Social- 
ists vote to the last man, the Liberals and Conserva- 
tives, out of which the best part of the nation is 
composed, sit at home, smoke and drink their beer, 
and forget that such things as elections ever existed. 
The second point is that the German of all classes 
is not at heart a Socialist; at heart he is loyal and 
Imperial, and when he votes with the Socialist it is 
because he is a German, consequently very dis- 
gusted with everything, and determined on showing 
his disapproval in the most effective way possible. 

The Emperor, naturally, has his share of the 



NATIONAL SPIRIT 347 

grumblings of his subjects, and very strained rela- 
tionships have often been the consequence. The fa- 
tal "disclosures" of a few months ago is a case in 
point. Strong was the disapproval, and bitter the 
reproaches, but at the bottom I do not believe that 
the Emperor has lost a whit of his popularity. On 
the contrary, judging from the reception accorded 
to him here shortly afterward, the people were se- 
cretly rather proud that their Emperor has a tem- 
perament which occasionally runs away with him. 
It is after all somewhat exceptional to have a tem- 
perament nowadays. At any rate I advise no one 
to agree with the German when he grumbles at his 
ruler. It is the German's privilege to grumble, just 
as it is the privilege in an ordinary family for the 
members to say unpleasant things about each other, 
but woe to the outsider who dares to interfere! 
Moreover, William II is an Emperor in more 
than name; outwardly and in his life he represents 
his position, his very love of magnificence throwing 
a glamour, a medieval splendor about him which 
appeals to the German character and taste. And 
the nation recognizes him as a man of high prin- 
ciples and high ideals, with his country's greatness 
well at heart, and those virtues have held him 
bound to his people in the worst and stormiest pe- 



348 THE GERMANS 

riods of their relations toward each other. What- 
ever else he is, the Emperor is German; German 
in his ideas, in his virtues, and in his failings. His 
people recognize themselves in him, they see in 
him the epitome of their race, and if they disagree 
with him — as is the way with those who resemble 
each other too closely — a real and prolonged 
estrangement is impossible. As to the Press, its 
"revelations," "disclosures," "interviews," and 
scandals, one can only feel an intense pity for a 
man who, thanks to his exalted position, is laid 
open to the calumnies of bad enemies and the be- 
trayal of worse friends without the possibility of 
redress. Lese Majeste indeed! The expression 
seems to me wholly ironical. The Emperor, as far 
as I can see, is the only man in this country who 
can be abused, betrayed, and libeled with impunity. 
This is not a political chapter; politics do not 
play any greater part in my German Year than 
they play in the year of the average German, and 
I will therefore desist from a long discourse on the 
subject. The German himself has very little inter- 
est in the matter. A short time ago the elections 
took place in Karlsruhe without causing the slight- 
est disturbance or excitement. The papers and 
those actually engaged in the struggle worked 



NATIONAL SPIRIT 349 

themselves up to the correct fever pitch with ap- 
peals, threats, denunciations, and so on, but the 
people remained entirely passive. It is this indif- 
ference which must be remembered when calculat- 
ing the powers of the various parties or when 
seeking to find out the real feeling of the nation. 

Newspaper opinions are practically valueless. 
The newspaper is not the voice of the people — it is 
the voice of the party, and the foreigner who listens 
with over great seriousness to the rantings and 
bickerings of the Press, under the impression that 
it is Germany who is speaking, is liable to be very 
much misled. The average German takes very lit- 
tle heed of the opinions of his daily paper. He 
skips through the latest news paragraphs, ignores 
the political column, and considers he has done his 
duty. The Englishman with his half-dozen terrific 
periodicals fills him with amazement, and what 
still more astonishes him is the importance which 
the Anglo-Saxon attaches to Press opinions and 
prophecies. The German holds them to be of no 
value whatever; they are not his opinions, but the 
opinions of a party which is itself not representa- 
tive — far less so than in England where the people 
are steeped in politics down to the lowest work- 
man. 



350 THE GERMANS 

The Socialist party, for instance, is composed 
of a comparative handful of red-hot demagogues 
supported by a mass of ignorance, stupidity, dis- 
content, and indifference. When some over-zeal- 
ous Junker in the Reichstag makes some autocratic 
remark which displeases him, the laborer throws 
in his vote for the Socialist without further 
thought over the matter. The Socialist receives 
him with open arms as a convert, and the laborer 
remains what he was — a respectable citizen who 
will probably be the first to cheer the Emperor 
when he sees him. From what I have heard and 
seen, I believe any great appeal to the nation, as 
in the case of war, would burst the great Socialist 
party like a bubble. 

There is, however, one dark spot in the national 
character which is not to be denied and difficult 
to excuse. This is the almost servile admiration 
which a certain type of German has for foreign 
ways and foreign customs, his ready adoption of 
their fashions and, what is worse and all too fre- 
quent, his adoption of their nationality. As far as 
I know, the German is the only man who will not 
only deliberately and willingly deny the land of his 
birth and take on new colors, but will look back 
upon his origin as a sort of stigma. Even in my 




The bicycle is popular 



NATIONAL SPIRIT 351 

small circle I know three or four families without 
a drop of English blood in their veins who have 
become naturalized British subjects, and are deeply 
offended if you do not pronounce their German 
name in the English way. What is more, they will 
not hesitate to abuse their blood-countrymen, make 
fun of their customs, and exalt their newly-ac- 
quired nationality in a manner peculiarly objec- 
tionable. They are the parvenus of the nation, 
people who, having forced their way into a circle 
to which they do not belong, attempt to hide their 
origin by throwing as much mud over it as they 
can. 

The Prussian rarely if ever sins in this re- 
spect; he is a true patriot, passionately German, 
and it is to him therefore that Germany owes her 
greatness. The South German is the worst sinner; 
and though it is only one class which produces these 
parasites — chiefly the merchant and bourgeois class 
— it is quite large enough to make the matter seri- 
ous. It is as though in this particular circle the 
national feeling had never fully developed, but re- 
mained a stunted growth which is easily uprooted 
and replaced by another plant — usually carefully 
cultivated with gold and self-interest. I have said 
elsewhere that the aristocracy and a certain supe- 



352 THE GERMANS 

rior division of the bourgeoisie formed the back- 
bone of the nation, and their patriotism is another 
proof. The aristocrat is German to the core; he is 
not only proud of his old name, but of his birth, 
his home, his country, and his Emperor. He is 
ready to sacrifice everything for these, his highest 
ideals. Whatever else may be said of him, he is at 
least no turncoat. Old-fashioned, conservative, and 
autocratic he may be, but if patriotism is old-fash- 
ioned and conservative then is the nation to be 
pitied who stands in the advance-guard of progress ! 
I remember, during a tour through the Black 
Forest some time ago, sitting at the dinner table of 
an hotel with two Germans who had entered into 
a hot discussion over their own and other coun- 
tries. I knew neither by name, but, as is usual in 
Germany, we were on bowing terms, and both 
knew that I was English. Perhaps as a bad com- 
pliment the one began to abuse Germany and to 
exalt England above every other nation. I cer- 
tainly felt far from flattered. The fact that an edu- 
cated man could speak as he did of his own 
country before a foreigner seemed to leave an 
unpleasant taste in the mouth. The other German 
was furious, and at last rose and left the table with 
the remark: 



NATIONAL SPIRIT 353 

"Whatever grievances you may have you have 
no right to speak as you have done. Whatever her 
faults,, Germany is your country and should be for 
you the only country in the world." 

The rest of the meal was decidedly uncomfort- 
able, and afterward I asked my German friend, 
who during the discussion had been simmering 
with indignation, if she knew who the two men 
were. We found out from the visitors' book, and it 
was significant that the patriot was a Prussian 
count, the other a merchant from some South Ger- 
man commercial city. Naturally I do not base my 
conclusions on this one instance, nor do I infer that 
all the merchant class is composed of such types. 
All I can assert is that the parasites — they are little 
better — who settle in other countries, taking all 
the benefits they can get and denying their father- 
land, are recruited chiefly from the ranks of the 
money-makers. Even there, however, this disease 
or weakness in national pride is gradually disap- 
pearing. It was no doubt the result of the long 
years when patriotism was cramped and discour- 
aged by the fatal disunity; and now that Germany, 
as a united nation, has taken her place in the fore- 
most rank, her children are throwing off the old 
vice and beginning to display the high pride of race 



354 THE GERMANS 

without which no people can be truly great. And 
to-day let no one be misled by the grumblings and 
seeming indifference of a certain class. A ready 
overflow of patriotic feeling on every small occa- 
sion is usually tainted with hysteria, and the Ger- 
man is not hysterical. His enthusiasm and his 
patriotism lies deep below the surface, and only 
when the storm winds of danger or adversity arise 
will the world know the forces which are hidden 
beneath the calm. With the call to arms divisions 
and hatreds will be forgotten, and the Emperor will 
find himself at the head of a mighty united nation, 
ready to make every sacrifice and — above all — pre- 
pared. 



CHAPTER XIX 

WHICH CONTAINS AN APPEAL AND AN APOLOGY 

In the six years which I have spent almost unin- 
terruptedly in Germany and among the German 
people, I have not once had to defend my nation- 
ality, or heard a word which could wound my na- 
tional pride. Those who have lived a great deal 
abroad will understand that that is a big statement, 
and it is all the bigger because in those six years 
the tension between the two countries has been acute 
and the war clouds have hung heavy on the horizon. 
On the one hand I read of nothing but hatred, 
jealousy, and rivalry; on the other I experienced 
nothing but kindness, courtesy, and goodwill. I do 
not think my experience is exceptional. English 
people with open minds who live in this country 
have only affection to express for their German 
hosts, and they in turn are invariably popular and 
welcomed in every circle of German society. The 
old dislike for the Englishman has long since been 
swept away, and as individuals the two races agree 
355 



356 THE GERMANS 

admirably. Why not then as nations? There is the 
difficulty, the problem which perhaps only time 
will solve. As I have said before, not a little of the 
trouble is due to the newspapers and to those dan- 
gerous people who have never been out of England 
but know all about it, but even putting those two 
irresponsible sources of irritation aside, there re- 
mains an undeniable bitterness. That the bitterness 
is very one-sided is as obvious as it is inevitable. 
Age is afraid and jealous of youth — not youth of 
age. We have grown and can grow no more and 
can only fight against decay; the German nation is 
growing, and we watch her progress with an alarm 
which in private life shows itself in obstinate prej- 
udice, in public life in feverish activity and rest- 
less outbursts of irritability. The German attitude 
toward England during these periods is one of 
surprise and mild amusement. In various ways the 
question which the German asks is, "Why do you 
worry so? Are you grown so weak that you can not 
watch the progress of another nation without 
panic? We do not want war with you. We want to 
develop, we must develop, we have the right to de- 
velop. Leave us in peace, and we will leave you in 
peace." 



APPEAL AND APOLOGY 357 

It is the cry of youth and national vitality seek- 
ing an outlet, and that it rings unpleasantly on our 
older ears is almost inevitable. We do not and dare 
not trust to the proffered peace. Unconsciously or 
consciously we look forward to the time when 
youth shall have become full-grown, and old age 
decrepitude, and ask if it would not be better to 
strike now, while we have the strength. That is 
also what the German asks. He wonders why we 
have not struck long ago, since, at the bottom, he 
believes that it is now too late, that in a war be- 
tween the two countries his nation would come out 
victorious. But even if he were mistaken, even if 
there were still time, an attack delivered out of 
sheer fear of the future would be, in the end, as 
disastrous as it would be un-English. 

We condemn all attempts to cripple a rival in 
sport, firstly, because it is unfair; secondly, because 
we know that it is rarely successful. We know that 
the fittest wins, and as good sportsmen we prefer to 
stand aside, cheering the winner, even though he 
does not carry our colors. In the greater struggle 
between the nations the same principle holds good. 
The fittest wins. Therefore it is above all things 
necessary that we should steel ourselves in national 



358 THE GERMANS 

virtues, in energy, in self-sacrifice, in unsparing 
endeavor, believing that if we are worthy, if we 
have retained our old high standard, we shall also 
retain our place in the world. Wealth, Dread- 
noughts, spasmodic bursts of activity, defensive 
alliances, and so on, will not save us from the fu- 
ture — our own fitness is our one salvation, and our 
fitness lies in our national character, not in our na- 
tional pocket. At the bottom it is not the Germans 
we are afraid of but of ourselves, and when we have 
once recovered our self-confidence, our justified 
belief in our own strength and virtue, we shall be 
able to greet the growing nation as an ally and a 
friend. The only question is whether that justified 
belief and self-confidence is still possible. 

Perhaps this short digression into national mat- 
ters may appear to have very little to do with my 
German Year, but, indeed, the relations between 
the two countries play a great part in my German 
life. It is not possible to love and respect a for- 
eign people and not feel the keenest regret when 
shadows of misunderstanding arise between them 
and my own countrymen. It is not possible to re- 
ceive hospitality and kindness from them, to live 
in peace and mutual understanding in their midst, 



APPEAL AND APOLOGY 359 

and not wish that the same feelings of friendship 
and good-will might exist between the nations as 
well as between the individuals. I firmly believe 
that the German people — I am not speaking of the 
politicians and newspapers, but of the people 
whose casting vote will weigh more than all else 
together — wish for peace, and are ready, even 
eager, to hold out the hand of friendship. Two na- 
tions who, time after time, have fought shoulder to 
shoulder, who together saved Europe from her 
greatest danger, related in blood and in all the 
highest virtues of courage, tenacity, and loyalty, 
should surely go forward in the future united as in 
the past. 

It is the only logical, the only natural and 
just solution of the problem which confronts us, 
and it is a union worthy of every effort and of every 
sacrifice. On its consummation depends the world's 
future, humanity's progress. England against Ger- 
many! We dare not imagine the end of such a dis- 
aster, and woe to that nation which first draws the 
sword — but England and Germany together! It 
may be a dream, a Utopia beyond earthly power of 
realization, but it is a dream worth dreaming, and 
no man, no nation is the worse for struggling 



360 THE GERMANS 

toward an ideal however high, however unattain- 
able. And we have no right to cry "impossible!" 
— not yet. There is still time and hope. Only let 
true greatness of purpose, true generosity, open- 
mindedness, and faith replace the canker-worms 
of fear, envy, hatred, and distrust, and the ideal 
will be within reach and the world's danger passed 
for ever. 

So much for my humble appeal. The politician 
will no doubt smile condescendingly and produce 
statistics, extracts from papers, speeches, and secret 
treaties enough to overwhelm an ignorant private 
individual. But I refuse to be overwhelmed. My 
German years have given me hope, and I prefer to 
go on hoping to the end. 

This German Year, at any rate, is finished, the 
wander through my impressions and experiences 
closed. I lay no claim to infallibility; there are 
exceptions to every rule, and it may be that in cer- 
tain points I am wholly mistaken. But I have de- 
scribed faithfully what I have seen and heard, and 
by that witness alone have I formed my opinions 
and passed my judgment. I am fully conscious that 
I have said nothing new, nothing which all Ger- 
mans and many English people living in this coun- 



APPEAL AND APOLOGY 361 

try do not already know, and for this I apologize. 
But if I have lifted a corner of the veil which di- 
vides the great bulk of my countrymen from my 
German friends, if I have brought the two peoples 
a step nearer, then my task has not been undertaken 
wholly in vain. 



THE END 



/FO